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Right To Die

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PRO (yes) CON (no)

The American Civil Liberties Union stated in its 1996 amicus brief in Vacco v. Quill that:

"The right of a competent, terminally ill person to avoid excruciating pain and embrace a timely and dignified death bears the sanction of history and is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. The exercise of this right is as central to personal autonomy and bodily integrity as rights safeguarded by this Court's decisions relating to marriage, family relationships, procreation, contraception, child rearing and the refusal or termination of life-saving medical treatment. In particular, this Court's recent decisions concerning the right to refuse medical treatment and the right to abortion instruct that a mentally competent, terminally ill person has a protected liberty interest in choosing to end intolerable suffering by bringing about his or her own death.

A state's categorical ban on physician assistance to suicide -- as applied to competent, terminally ill patients who wish to avoid unendurable pain and hasten inevitable death -- substantially interferes with this protected liberty interest and cannot be sustained."

1996 - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)


Margaret P. Battin, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah, and Timothy E. Quill, MD, Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester, stated the following in their 2004 book Physician-Assisted Dying: The Case for Palliative Care & Patient Choice:

"We firmly believe that physician-assisted death should be one--not the only one, but one--of the last-resort options available to a patient facing a hard death. We agree that these options should include high dose pain medication if needed, cessation of life-sustaining therapy, voluntary cessation of eating and drinking, and terminal sedation. We also believe, however, that physician-assisted dying, whether it is called physician-assisted death or physician aid in dying or physician-assisted suicide, should be among the options available to paients at the end of life."

2004 - Margaret P. Battin, PhD

Timothy E. Quill, MD


Jasper Emmering, MD, research physician, stated the following in a June 9, 2007 email to

"I support legal euthanasia for a number of reasons. First comes the principle of sovereignty of the individual over his own body. Then there is a practical matter: the moral distinction between abstaining from life-saving treatment, palliative sedation and euthanasia is very murky, for me it doesn't exist at all. Therefore it makes no sense that the first two are legal while the third is not.

Lastly, I think that 'involuntary euthanasia' (euthanasia without the patient's permission, i.e. murder) may very well be more common in countries where doctors can go to jail just for suggesting euthanasia as an option. Of course there's no data on this, but my common sense tells me that when the doctor is not afraid to ask, you don't have to be afraid that he'll do it without asking."

June 9, 2007 - Jasper Emmering, MD


Jack Kevorkian, MD, a retired pathologist also known as 'Dr. Death' who has aided over 130 people in ending their lives, stated the following in a 1990 interview with Cornerstone magazine:

"I believe there are people who are healthy and mentally competent enough to decide on suicide. People who are not depressed. Everyone has a right for suicide, because a person has a right to determine what will or will not be done to his body. There's no place for people to turn today who really want to commit suicide. Teenagers, and the elderly especially, have nowhere to turn. But when they come to me, they will obey what I say because they know they're talking to an honest doctor."

1990 - Jack Kevorkian, MD


The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso, PhD), spiritual leader and Head of State of the Tibetan government in exile, stated the following in a 1985 letter to Asiaweek:

"In the event a person is definitely going to die and he is either in great pain or has virtually become a vegetable, and prolonging his existence is only going to cause difficulties and suffering for others, the termination of his life may be permitted according to Mahayana Buddhist ethics."

1985 - Tenzin Gyatso, PhD


Marcia Angell, MD, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, stated the following in her July 11, 2006 article "The Quality of Mercy," published in the Willits News:

"There is no right way to die, and there should be no schism between advocates for better palliative care and advocates for making it possible to hasten death with a physician's help. Good palliative care and the right to make this choice are no more mutually exclusive than good cardiologic care and the availability of heart transplantation. To require dying patients to endure unrelievable suffering, regardless of their wishes is callous and unseemly. Death is hard enough without being bullied. Like the relief of pain, this too is a matter of mercy...

I've never taken a public position on euthanasia, only on physician-assisted suicide (which I support)."

July 11, 2006 - Marcia Angell, MD


Faye Girsh, EdD, Senior Adviser at the Final Exit Network, stated the following in her Winter 2001 article "How Shall We Die," published in Free Inquiry:

"At the Hemlock Society we get calls daily from desperate people who are looking for someone like Jack



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