Assisted Suicide or Death with Dignity?

David Levon, a member of the organization Compassion & Choices, came to NYLS mid-February to discuss the issue of Physician Aid in Dying and the recent film “You Don’t Know Jack,” about the controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian. This coincided with the constitutional law discussion of the issue in my Con Law II class.

While the United States recognizes (and the supreme court upholds) a constitutional right to refuse or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, it leaves the issue of physician aid in dying through medication up to the states. While mentally competent adults who are terminally ill, imminently near death, and suffering great pain, may in some situations have a right to make a fully voluntary unpressured decision to seek medical help to hasten death through the aid of their physician, this only exists with those whose lives are dependant on being hooked up to “life support.” That is, only 3 states allow mentally competent adults who are terminally ill, imminently near death, and suffering great pain, to make a fully voluntary unpressured decision to seek medical help to hasten death through prescribed life-ending medication. Those are Washington, Oregon, and Montanta.… <Read More>