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Reflections on Life, Death, and the Constitution$
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George Anastaplo

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125336

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125336.001.0001

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. Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) and Assisted Suicide

. Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) and Assisted Suicide

(p.165) 9. Washington v. Glucksberg (1997) and Assisted Suicide
Reflections on Life, Death, and the Constitution

George Anastaplo

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter discusses the ethical and legal issues on the development of unprecedented means for ministering to the bodies of severely afflicted patients. It examines the Glucksberg case which deals on whether the United States Constitution keeps a State from forbidding a doctor (or anyone else) from assisting in the suicide of a desperately ill patient. It notes that it seems to be generally agreed among medical doctors, that the deliberate withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatments from a terminally ill patient may be neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide. It provides that State laws regulating medical practice generally distinguish between “killing” (which is forbidden) and “letting go” (which is permitted). Furthermore, it provides that the American Medical Association guidelines with respect to these matters also seem to permit the use by doctors of “terminal sedation,” the administration of an amount of sedation for intense pain which is likely to shorten the patient's life.

Keywords:   ethical issues, legal issues, Glucksberg case, United States Constitution, terminally ill patient, euthanasia, assisted suicide, killing, letting go, terminal sedation

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