46 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 243

The Doctor Will See You for the Last Time Now: Physician-Assisted Suicide in Massachusetts

PdfPDF by Stephen J. Orlando · February-24-2013 · Categories: Notes, Number 1, Print Edition, Volume 46

Under early common law, many states punished assisted suicide as murder.  In 1994, however, the Supreme Court of Michigan drew a legal distinction between the concepts of murder and assisted suicide.  Despite this distinction, forty-seven states still prohibit physicians from assisting in a patient’s death. The justifications for this restriction include avoiding the possibility of abuse, preventing the risk of a slippery slope to involuntary euthanasia, or preserving the integrity of the medical profession.  The three states that allow the practice view physician-assisted suicide (P.A.S.) as a means of promoting patient autonomy and providing a merciful end-of-life option for terminally ill patients. Presently, Massachusetts is in line with the majority of states in prohibiting P.A.S.  In September 2011, Attorney General Martha Coakley certified an initiative petition to legalize physician-assisted suicide. [...]