What questions could I ask in a presentation on the physician assisted suicide case, Washington v. Glucksberg?

Overall questions and what can be learned from the case


Overall questions and what can be learned from the case. Also, how can this case be applied to present times?

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    This article will give you plenty of questions.~

    The suit from Washington state, Glucksburg v. Washington, took a different tack. The plaintiffs there argued that the state's ban on assisted suicide violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sustained this argument and overturned the Washington statute banning assisted suicide. The federal circuit court found that every person had a fundamental liberty interest in controlling the time and manner of their death, an interest protected by the Due Process Clause.

    The high court issued two separate opinions in these cases, but it acted in essentially the same manner in dealing with both of them. Chief Justice Rehnquist spoke for the Court in both opinions, although in each case the seeming unanimity of the Court was broken by the realization that only five of the nine justices agreed that an absolute ban on assisted suicide was acceptable.

    Rehnquist drew a sharp distinction between ending life by refusing treatment and ending life by assisted suicide. Thus, in Vacco, the chief justice concluded that as a matter of history and professional medical practice the law had correctly treated these two practices as different. Rehnquist also found that such differences were entirely rational and therefore supportable as a matter of state legislative prerogative. The government, Rehnquist observed, had a legitimate interest in banning assisted suicide, since failing to do so would undermine the role of the physician as healer, expose the vulnerable to abuse, and initiate a steady slide toward euthanasia.

    Rehnquist was even more forceful in dealing with Glucksburg v. Washington. He rejected the claim that an abstract concept of personal autonomy, akin to that described in the abortion decision Roe v. Wade (1973), provided a sufficient basis to assert a due process right to commit suicide or to have someone assist in a suicide. There was not, Rehnquist made clear, a fundamental right to assisted suicide because it was not deeply rooted in the nation's history and traditions. The Washington ban on assisted suicide was acceptable because it was related to a number of important governmental interests, including protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession, protecting the vulnerable from mistakes, and reaffirming the value of life.

    Various justices weighed in with concurring opinions, all of which suggested that the issue of assisted suicide was not entirely foreclosed from further discussion by the Court. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, for example, speculated that a mentally competent person experiencing great suffering might be able to secure help in shaping the circumstances of his or her imminent death. Even Chief Justice Rehnquist noted that the decisions in both cases left open the possibility for further debate on the issue. Yet both decisions made a constitutional challenge unlikely to succeed without a state first enacting legislation that would permit assisted suicide. As in many other areas of the law, the Rehnquist Court decided to return the issue to the states and their legislative processes rather than imposing a federally mandated judicial solution.

    Source(s): West Law
  • 5 years ago


    Source(s): Online Professional Medical Consultation : http://onlinephysician.neatprim.com/?FxpT
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