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74 N.D. L. Rev. 341 (1998)
Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Survey of the Issues surrounding Legalization

handle is hein.journals/nordak74 and id is 351 raw text is: PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE: A SURVEY OF THE ISSUES
On June 26, 1997, the United States Supreme Court decided that an
individual has no constitutionally protected right to request the assistance
of a physician in ending his or her life.' However, the decision left the
door open for the states to make individual determinations as to whether
physician-assisted suicide should be legal.2 Physician-assisted suicide
occurs when a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the
necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the
life-ending act.3 The notion of physician-assisted suicide is ripe for
public debate. Although it is now considered morally and legally permis-
sible to withdraw and withhold care for the competent terminally ill,4
many believe that the leap from withdrawing care to physician-assisted
suicide is untenable5 since it essentially means that a physician is
purposely taking a life.
By examining the issue of physician-assisted suicide from the indi-
vidual perspective of the patient as well as the collective perspective of
society, this Note will identify the controversy surrounding physician-
assisted suicide, explore its origins, and discuss how a resolution might
be achieved. Section II of this Note will discuss the changes which have
caused society to consider accepting the idea of physician-assisted
suicide. Section III will explain the end-of-life choices that have already
gained acceptance and how they differ from physician-assisted suicide.
Section IV will discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions denying a
constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. Section V will explore
how the states are currently handling end-of-life decisions and examine
a model for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.
1. See Washington v. Glucksberg, 117 S. Ct. 2258, 2275 (1997); Vacco v. Quill, 117 S. Ct. 2293,
2302 (1997).
2. Glucksberg, 117 S. Ct. at 2275. Throughout the Nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest
and profound debate about the morality, legality, and practicality of physician-assisted suicide. Our
holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society. Id.
3. CODE OF MEDICAL ETHics 56 (AMA, 1996-97 ed.). For example, the physician provides
sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide.
4. See Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health, 497 U.S. 261, 278 (1990) (inferring that a
person has a constitutionally protected liberty interest in refusing unwanted medical treatment).
5. David J. Doukas et al., Attitudes and Behaviors on Physician-Assisted Death: A Study of
Michigan Oncologists, 13 J. OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY 1055 (1995).

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