What Does a 'Right' to Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) Legally Entail?
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2002; 23(4-5): 271-286
"What Does a Right to Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) Legally entail?" Much of the bioethics literature focuses on the morality of PAS but ignores the legal implications of the conclusions thereby wrought. Specifically, what does a legal right to PAS entail both on the part of the physician and the patient? I argue that we must begin by distinguishing a right to PAS qua "external" to a particular physician-patient relationship from a right to PAS qua "internal" to a particular physician-patient relationship. The former constitutes a negative claim right in rem that prohibits outside interference with the exercise of a right to PAS while the latter can provide the patient with a positive claim right in personam to obligatory assistance from his physician. Importantly, I argue that the creation of such a patient right, however, originates with the physician who may exercise an unqualified right of first refusal prior to promising to help her patient commit suicide. In doing so, I hope to establish that explicit physician promises of assistance in dying should become legally binding. As such, current PAS law in both The Netherlands and Oregon is in need of substantive modification.
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Gunderson, Martin (1997-02)Many people believe that it is permissible for people who are suffering from terminal illnesses to commit suicide or even that such people have a right to commit suicide. Some have also argued that it follows that it is ...