Inderscience Publishers

The right to die: does the state lose an interest in a dying patient's life?

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

In 2008, Washington approved a Death with Dignity Act modelled after a similar law enacted in Oregon in 1993. These laws allow terminally ill patients to seek Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). The US Supreme Court has not acknowledged a fundamental right to die and opponents of the Death with Dignity Acts have sought to strike these statutes down as being unconstitutional. This comment evaluates the similarities between Washington and Oregon's PAS statute and proposes that the US Supreme Court recognise that the state may have a declining interest in a terminally ill patient's life. As the state's interest continues to decrease, the terminally ill patient has an increasing right to seek PAS, so long as the PAS laws provide strict limitations on treatment and narrowly define terminally ill.

Keywords: fundamental rights, physician assisted suicide, PAS, right to die, Death with Dignity Act, state interest, terminally ill, equal protection, due process, dying patients, USA, United States, treatment limitations, narrow definitions

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