The Foulston & Siefkin Lecture. Tales of Death: Storytelling in the Physician-Assisted Suicide Litigation

Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 39, Pp. 159-183, 2000

Posted: 17 Jul 2000

See all articles by Edward Larson

Edward Larson

Pepperdine University School of Law

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Larson, Edward J., The Foulston & Siefkin Lecture. Tales of Death: Storytelling in the Physician-Assisted Suicide Litigation. Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 39, Pp. 159-183, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=228847

Edward J. Larson (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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