Assisted Suicide and Equal Protection: In Defense of the Distinction Between Killing and Letting Die
Quinn, Kevin P.
Issues in Law and Medicine. 1997 Fall; 13(2): 145-171.
The author argues that the distinction between intentionally killing oneself and intentionally letting oneself die is both coherent "as a matter of principle" and morally relevant. This principled distinction then provides a benchmark for courts considering equal protection arguments to distinguish one patient seeking to commit suicide from another wishing to free herself of unwanted life-sustaining medical treatment, and to conclude that these two individuals are not similarly situated for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause. These two situations are morally distinct -- the deaths are caused by different means and those involved have different intentions. The intention of the doctor and patient to hasten the patient's death is material, and the intention relates to understanding what it means to treat people equally. Doctors who participate in assisted suicide intend their patients to die by their own acts, i.e., intentional killing. The author concludes that those who ask their doctors to commit assisted suicide and those who forego treatment are not similarly situated for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause. The afterward comments on the Supreme Court's recent assisted suicide decision. It affirms the author's analysis.
Allowing to Die; Assisted Suicide; Compassion; Constitutional Law; Death; Due Process; Doctors; Equal Protection; Government; Government Regulation; Health; Intention; Killing; Law; Legal Aspects; Legal Rights; Life; Moral Policy; Patients; Physicians; Regulation; Right to Die; Rights; State Government; Suicide; Supreme Court Decisions; Treatment Refusal; Withholding Treatment;
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