Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 1996

Abstract

Your State has, let us suppose, a physician in one of its university-affiliated hospitals who is an admirer of Dr. Kevorkian, or a member of the Hemlock Society. The date is a year from now-December 1997. Your State has adopted the Model State Act to Authorize and Regulate Physician-Assisted Suicide (the "Act").

You now have an unexpected interest in the effects of the Act. A friend or a relative-your eighteen-year-old daughter or your nineteen-year-old younger brother or your fifty-five-year-old father--has approached a hospital seeking counseling and relief. Concerned about the sort of advice your loved one may receive, and concerned even more deeply about what sort of procedures may be instituted, you pick up a copy of the Act.

On a casual perusal, you feel reassured: the Act seems to be addressed to patients in dire straits, and not to cases like that of your daughter, your brother, or your father. Perhaps you are right not to be concerned. But perhaps you are wrong.

This Article describes the Act and some of its background and effects in detail, showing that it goes further than at first appears, and comparing it in certain respects to the recently adopted Oregon statute on this subject and to the rights held to be constitutionally protected in recent decisions by the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and Second Circuits.

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