Introduction to the Law - Mercer University

Introduction to the Law - Mercer University

Jody Blanke Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Law Mercer University, Atlanta Ancient Rome Its good to be King (or Emperor)

Convicted criminals forfeited real and personal property to the Emperor Suicide became a crime English Common Law

Still good to be King Suicide also a crime, but punished by forfeiture of personal property only Early American colonies adopted this rule, but over time, abolished forfeiture penalties By Civil War, suicide is not a crime United States Today

35 states have statutes specifically banning assisted suicide Another 9 criminalize it by common law But competent adults have a right to refuse medical treatment

Karen Anne Quinlan 1975 Karen Anne Quinlan mixed drugs and alcohol and became comatose Family sought court order to pull the plug Order granted, but family convinced to wean her from respirator She remained comatose for over 10 years, until her death in 1986

Living Wills In aftermath of Quinlan case, every state enacted some sort of living will Most states also have some type of durable power of attorney Dr. Kevorkian

Assisted in many suicides in the 1990s Some states enacted legislation in response e.g., Georgia Finally, successfully prosecuted for murder on the fourth try Paroled in 2007 after serving 8 years of a 10- 25 year sentence

Oregons Death with Dignity Act Ballot initiative passed in 1994 Challenged in court Becomes effective in 1997 Legal (societal) experiment Oregons Death with Dignity Act

Oregons Death with Dignity Act Oregons Death with Dignity Act Early Supreme Court Cases Washington v. Glucksberg, and Quill v. Vacco (1997)

Challenged bans on assisted suicide in Washington and New York states Fundamental liberty interest and equal protection challenges denied Court referred to Oregon and the laboratory of the states Other States Death with Dignity Act

Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2015) Colorado (2016), D.C. (2016), Hawaii (2018), New Jersey (2019) Montana First Judicial Court ruled that a terminally ill patient has a right to die under the Montana Constitution (2008) Montana Supreme Court held that physician assisted

suicide is not banned by state law, but did not address the issue of whether there is a constitutionally protected right to die (2009) The Netherlands Decriminalized physician assisted suicide in 1993 Legalized it in 2002

Intolerable suffering The Netherlands The law allows medical review board to suspend prosecution of doctors who performed euthanasia when each of the following conditions is fulfilled: the patient's suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement the patient's request for euthanasia must be voluntary and persist

over time (the request can not be granted when under the influence of others, psychological illness or drugs) the patient must be fully aware of his/her condition, prospects and options there must be consultation with at least one other independent doctor who needs to confirm the conditions mentioned above the death must be carried out in a medically appropriate fashion by the doctor or patient, in which case the doctor must be present the patient is at least 12 years old (patients between 12 and 16 years

of age require the consent of their parents)

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