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The Alleged Distinction between Euthanasia and the Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Treatment: Conceptually Incoherent and Impossible to Maintain


David Orentlicher


Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law

March 8, 2012

University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 1998, No, 3, p. 837

Abstract:     
Richard Epstein, in his book Mortal Peril, supports euthanasia and assisted suicide and rejects the distinction between them and withdrawal of treatment. In this essay, Professor Orentlicher argues that Epstein is correct in finding no meaningful moral distinction between euthanasia and treatment withdrawal, examines the reasons why the distinction has persisted in American jurisprudence, and explains why the distinction has eroded.

Epstein also concludes in his book that there is no constitutional right to euthanasia or assisted suicide. Professor Orentlicher's response is that constitutionality is not the appropriate inquiry; rather, the better question is whether to recognize a right to assisted suicide once a right to euthanasia in the form of terminal sedation already exists. He answers this question in the affirmative, arguing that assisted suicide enhances patient welfare and reduces risks of abuse in a world with euthanasia.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

JEL Classification: I11, I12, I18

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Date posted: March 17, 1999 ; Last revised: March 10, 2012

Suggested Citation

Orentlicher, David, The Alleged Distinction between Euthanasia and the Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Treatment: Conceptually Incoherent and Impossible to Maintain (March 8, 2012). University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 1998, No, 3, p. 837. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=154250

Contact Information

David Orentlicher (Contact Author)
Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )
530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States
317-274-4993 (Phone)
317-274-0455 (Fax)

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