Thursday, March 2, 2017

Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch Opposes Death With Dignity Laws

Judge Neil Gorsuch, president Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, is not a supporter of death with dignity (also called medical aid in dying) laws. In his 2009 book entitled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia he defends his position, writing "...all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong."

Five states (Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Colorado, and California) currently have death with dignity laws, and several others are considering them. In general these laws allow a person to terminate his/her own life under certain very narrow circumstances, which generally include the presence of a terminal illness, adequate counseling, and the consent of a physician. The Supreme Court has not yet considered a case involving these laws, so for now the states can make their own decisions.

Not every state is likely to pass death with dignity laws; indeed, some state's legislatures or legal counsels actively oppose them. The deputy solicitor general of the state of Wisconsin, for one, is already thinking about strategies for opposing death with dignity laws, should one ever be challenged in the federal courts.

The first challenge to a death with dignity law in the Supreme Court is likely to have a friend in Justice Gorsuch, should he be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Just sayin'.

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