washington v glucksberg 521 u s 702 1997 n.
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Washington v. Glucksberg , 521 U.S. 702 (1997). By: Holly Andrews. Basic Info. Washington State of Washington and it’s Attorney General Glucksberg et. Al

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basic info
Basic Info
  • Washington
    • State of Washington and it’s Attorney General
  • Glucksberg et. Al
    • Harold Glucksberg, M. D., Abigail Halperin, M. D., Thomas A. Preston, M. D., and Peter Shalit, M. D; Three terminally ill patients; and an “nonprofit organization that counsels people considering physician assisted suicide.”
  • Wash Rev. Code 9A.36.060(1) (1994)
    • The law states that a person is guilty of promoting suicide when they knowingly assist or aid in that attempt.
    • Washington’s Assisted Suicide Ban
suicide statistics
Suicide Statistics
  • “Cancer patients have nearly twice the incidence of suicide than the general population. Lung, stomach, and head and neck cancers have the highest suicide rates among all cancer types. Up to 8.5% of terminally ill cancer patients express a sustained and pervasive wish for an early death, and in one survey of terminally ill patients, 10% of patients reported “seriously pursuing” physician assisted suicide.”
fourteenth amendment
Fourteenth Amendment
  • Due Process Clause
    • “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
  • Liberty?
west district of washington
West District of Washington
  • Decision of West District Court
    • In favor of Glucksberg
  • Reasons?
    • Supreme court cases Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey
  • Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health
    • Case Details
    • Decided that if a patient was mentally competent and they wished to refuse medical treatment, then they were allowed too without providing evidence of their decision.
court of appeals
Court of Appeals
  • Constitutionality of the Assisted Suicide Ban
  • Decision
    • Reversal of District Court
  • Heard before the Ninth Circuit en banc
    • Decision
      • In favor of Glucksberg
  • Right to die?
    • Liberty interest/clause
      • Assisted suicide
    • In the 8-3 decision of the Ninth Circuit, it was found that there was a “right to determine one’s time and manner of death” in liberty interest.
supreme court
Supreme Court
  • Due Process law and Nation’s history
    • Suicide and assisted suicide in the past
      • There have never been exceptions with assisted suicide for patients in the past. The court discussed the fact that assisted suicide had been argued in other states and places, and was usually re-affirmed to be illegal.
    • During this time, the President of the United States signed an act that restricted funding with physician assisted suicide.
supreme court cont
Supreme Court cont.
  • The court decided that the right to being assisted in committing suicide was not within the liberty interest of the Due Process Clause. They decided that Glucksberg et al. was saying that the right to commit suicide and have assistance in that act was within the liberty interest of the Due Process Clause and that interest had never been in the Nation’s past or traditions.
cruzan v director
Cruzan v. Director
  • The argument with the decision of Cruzan v. Director was that their case’s decision was made because it was found in the Nation’s history that forced administration of medication was unconstitutional and patients have always been able to refuse medical treatment.
governmental interests
Governmental Interests
  • Some of the governental issues include “prohibiting intentional killing and preserving human life, preventing the serious public health problem of suicide, and protecting the medical profession's integrity and ethics and maintaining physicians' role as their patients' healers.” These had to be found so that the Due Process Clause would be considered valid and the assisted suicide ban of Washington State would be found constitutional.
the decision
The Decision
  • The previous opinions were given by Court Chief Justice Rehnquist and the opinion was concurred by the rest of the justices as well as the decision. The final vote was a unanimous decision of 9-0 favoring Washington State and reversing the previous Ninth Circuit decision. The case was remanded back to a lower court.
after the decision
After the Decision
  • Since the Washington v. Glucksberg case, three states have adopted Death with Dignity Acts. Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act was actually approved in 1994 before Washington v. Glucksberg took place, and was put into effect a year after the case. In 2008 Washington adopted a Death with Dignity Act that went into effect in 2009, and Vermonts was approved and enacted in May of this year. A Death with Dignity Act states that, “These laws allow mentally competent, terminally-ill adult state residents to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their death.” In Washington, these patients have to have less than six months to live.
is it right
Is it Right?
  • The argument for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide is one that will probably continue for a long time. The Supreme Court’s ruling was valid in the fact that the assisted suicide ban was not unconstitutional, however, whether or not the assisted suicide is right or not is a completely different argument.
    • Personal Views