Physician-Assisted Suicide: Legislatures Should Take Action

By: Karli Cozen When a terminally-ill person with only a few months to live is experiencing great pain and suffering, shouldn’t the law empower them to end that suffering and die on their own terms? The Supreme Court addressed the issue of physician-assisted suicide in Washington v. Glucksberg. In this 1997 case, the Supreme Court recognized that there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, but left the door open for state legislatures to enact laws on this matter. Since that time, five states including Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and California, have passed “aid-in-dying” laws which permit physicians to help terminally ill patients end their lives under certain conditions. Additionally, countries around the world such as Canada and the Netherlands have legalized physician assisted death. Most recently, the California End of Life Option Act went into effect on June 9, 2016. This law allows California residents over the age of eighteen who have a terminal illness with less than six months to live to request to their attending physician a prescription for an “aid in dying drug.” To be eligible under this act, the patient must be competent to make medical decisions for themselves and must be able to self-administer [read more]