The Foulston & Siefkin Lecture. Tales of Death: Storytelling in the Physician-Assisted Suicide Litigation
Pepperdine University School of Law
Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 39, Pp. 159-183, 2000
This article analyzes the litigation rhetoric used by parties in the physician-assisted suicide cases decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1997. The one case, Washington v. Glucksberg, involved the Washington State law against assisting suicide; the other case, Vacco v. Quill, involved a similar New York statute. The article follows those cases from their initial complaints through their trial court, circuit court and Supreme Court phases looking at the language used by the various attorneys in making their arguments and judges in rendering their rulings. In dealing with this issue, all parties appealed to stories about life and death with or without physician-assisted suicide in presenting their views. In large part, the final verdict depends on whether one believes that, on the whole, individual autonomy is increased or decreased through recognizing a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. There are compelling stories on both sides, as this article indicates.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 17, 2000
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