O'Brien, Christine Neylon, and Gerald A. Madek. “Physician-assisted suicide”. Nebraska Law Review, 1998. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1455.
An age-old dilemma plays out in the litigation surrounding physician-assisted suicide practices. It highlights the need to balance the rights of the individual with the expectations, goals, and values of society; but in a society as committed to individual autonomy as the United States, whose promise has been the right to control their own destinies, this conflict becomes central to preserving our heritage. We have attempted to negotiate between conflicting rights many times in judicial history. Such negotiations are rarely satisfactory to either side since it is a zero-sum outcome. In this history of negotiations calling for calibrating the line between individual and collective rights, nothing has been more contentious than whether there is a constitutional right to engage in physician-assisted suicide, notwithstanding the controversy over the constitutional right of privacy for women seeking abortions.
This Article reviews two appellate court decisions and the unanimous United States Supreme Court decision ruling that may prohibit physician-assisted suicide practices. The Article further explores the parameters of the effects of this ruling, and comments on future state legislation in this area, and in what circumstances the next constitutional challenge may arise.