Bioethics Blogs

Neil Gorsuch and End of Life Liberty

Judge Neil Gorsuch

Kathryn L. Tucker
(Executive Director of the End of Life Liberty Project) and David C.
Leven (Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant for End of Life
Choices New York
) wrote the following letter to the Washington Post on Judge Gorsuch.

Judge Gorsuch’s views on
what he erroneously terms “Assisted Suicide” are very alarming to
those who support the right of terminally ill patients to choose a more
peaceful death via aid in dying. This refers to the practice where a physician
prescribes medication for a mentally competent terminally ill patient, which
the patient may ingest to achieve a peaceful death.  Modern medicine can extend the dying process
so that some patients find themselves trapped in an experience they find
unbearable. Thus the option of AID is widely supported nationwide, the vast
majority of Americans, around 70%, as well as by doctors, by an almost 2 to 1
margin, 57% to 29%. Six states now permit this practice.

Judge Gorsuch asserts
that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable”, but he envisions
a “legal system that allows for terminally ill patients to refuse
treatments that would extend their lives”, which has been the law now for
several decades.  According to his
reasoning, a dying patient may have life sustaining treatment stopped, for
example refusing continued treatment with a ventilator, knowing she will die,
and where the doctor who withdraws the ventilator plays an active role in the
resulting death. But, another dying patient not on life extending treatment, suffering
equally or even more, would be prohibited, according to the position taken by
Judge Gorsuch, from securing a prescription for medication the patient could
ingest to achieve a peaceful death, even though the doctor plays a more limited
role in the resulting death.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.