The Justification of Physician-Assisted Deaths

Decisions on physician-assisted suicide have recently been handed down by the Ninth and Second Circuit Court of Appeals. These decisions are the latest developments in a rapidly unfolding legal history in which a consensus has been reached that no criminal liability exists for withholding or withdrawing a lifesustaining treatment when physicians are directed to do so by a patient or an authorized surrogate.
Given that there is a moral and legal right to refuse a lifesustaining treatment and that suicide has been decriminalized, it might seem that patients and physicians are at liberty to reach an agreement about how death will occur, as the Ninth and Second Circuits' decisions faintly suggest.

Tom Beauchamp
Published in: Indiana Law Review
1996 Volume 29, No 4 Pages 1173-1200