[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Debate Shifts to States

26 June 1997


t.gif (986 bytes)oday's U.S. Supreme Court rulings outlawing physician-assisted suicide is a "major setback to the so-called 'right-to-die movement,'" but will not end the debate, said the dean of the law school at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

"The battle will now shift to the states," said Bernard Dobranski. &quotBut the Supreme Court's striking refusal to recognize this so-called right adds a powerful voice in support of those who seek to affirm and protect life."

Dobranski is a former member of the Michigan Commission on Death and Dying, having served with former Michigan prosecutor Richard Thompson, who unsuccessfully prosecuted Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

"The Supreme Court rulings uphold state laws, which outlawed assisted suicide and confirm that there is no constitutional right to such assistance," he said. "The decisions validate and affirm the laws of over 35 states, many of which have been in existence for over 100 years. The decisions also contitute a major setback to the so-called 'right-to-die' movement."

"Anyone who followed the oral arguments in these two cases will not be surprised by today's decisions," Dobranski added, referring to Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, heard Jan. 8. "The skepticism expressed by the individual justices to the legal and factual foundations of the alleged constitutional 'right-to-die' was apparent throughout the two-hour argument."

Dobranski can be reached at 202-319-5139 (o) or 703-683-2444 (h).

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Revised: 27 October 1997

All contents copyright 1997.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.