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In order to constitutionally create a previously unspecified "right" the Supreme Court must conclude that such a "right " is either deeply rooted into the nation's history and tradition, or is fundamental to sustaining the liberty provided in the Constitution. The court should also have a very specific description of what is to be entailed within this "right". The difficulty in arguing for assisted suicide is that since the justification for assisted suicide is not historical or necessary for ordered liberty, the state must only prove that assisted suicide is within the perimeters of exercising what is best for the nation as a whole. The Supreme Court has earlier stated that, "This requirement is unquestionably me here," citing as concerns: preserving human life; preventing suicide; protecting the integrity and the ethics of the medical profession; protecting vulnerable groups from abuse, neglect, and mistakes; and preventing a start "down the path to voluntary and perhaps even involuntary euthanasia." (Annas, 1100) The possibility of legalization is, however, still quite probable, especially as one uses the Dutch government as an example, where physician assisted suicide is illegal but not prosecutable if executed under certain specified legal guidelines.
The practice of physician assisted suicide in the Netherlands has been defined over many years of legal processes
and medical ethics, beginning in 1973, when the first case against physician assisted suicide went to trial. The courts found the physician guilty of the crime, but suspended her sentence and effectively ruled out the threat of future prosecution. In many Dutch cases between 1973 and 1984 the courts established necessary conditions for not prosecuting a physician for assisting in a suicide. The patient must first make the request for euthanasia, and then repeat the request explicitly acknowledging their desire to die. The patient must also be suffering from a disease that has brought about severe physical or mental pain with no hope of recovery. The final case in 1984 resulted in the addition of a third guideline which required a physician to consult a colleague to verify the diagnosis, and to design the plan for euthanasia as to not inflict unnecessary suffering on others concerned.
Nevertheless problems arose in the Netherlands concerning the legality of euthanasia. Thus in 1993 the Dutch Parliament passed measures to clarify the state of physician assisted suicide laws. Under the new law physician assisted suicide is still punishable by up to 12 years in prison, but if the established guidelines are followed, the practice is safely shielded by the legal system. The law requires that patients be euthanized in accordance with the following "carefulness
requirements." (Russell, 781) The first requires that a request for death must be made entirely of the patient's free will and could not be made by family or friends. The second requirement states that the request must be expressed repeatedly and show lasting longing for death. And finally b
Quotes talked about in this paper
- "carefulness Tierce, 4 requirements." (Russell, 781) The first requires that a request ...
- "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." (United States Constitution, Amendment 14) Tierce, 2 In order to constitutionally create a previously unspecified "right" the Supreme Court must conclude that such a "right "
- The court noted, however, that suicide "has never enjoyed similar legal protection," and that the "two acts are widely and reasonably regarded as quite distinct."
- The court concluded that a state can legally countenance this form of palliative care if it is "based on informed consent and the double effect. Just as a state may prohibit assisting suicide while permitting patients to refuse unwanted lifesaving treatment, it may permit palliative care related to that refusal, which may have the forseen but unintended ‘double effect' of hastening the patient death." ...
- The Court seems to be implying that within the Constitution there is something to the effect of a "right not to suffer" ...
Terminology referenced in this essay
Names talked about in this research paper
Annas, Nancy Cruzan, Harper, April, Russell, Russell, Ruth O., David, Hoeffler, Humphrey Derek, Meier, George J,
Organizations referenced in this report
Supreme Court, Oregon Supreme Court, New England Journal of Medicine, Dutch Parliament, Department of Health,
Locations included in this research paper
United States, New York, Missouri, the only state, America, the Netherlands,
Health Conditions mentioned in this report
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