KEY FEATURES • A brief introduction to the U.S. judicial system and to the public policy dimension of judicial decisions provides context for the material. • Criminal and regulatory laws are presented with contrasting views on various contemporary public policy issues, including assault weapons, hate crimes, stand your ground laws, police use of deadly force, and much more. • A question for debate and learning objectives appear at the beginning of each chapter. The debate format features contemporary topical issues that engage students and ask them to consider various points of view. • Brief essays introduce students to each debate and put the issue into context to help students understand how policy issues arise in criminal justice and law. • Summaries of the positions follow the debate sections to ensure students have a clear understanding of the contrasting arguments. • “You Decide” exercises and discussion questions appear at the end of each debate to give students the opportunity to apply what they read to new and novel situations.

Crimes Against the Person: Assisted Suicide

2.7 crimes against the person: Assisted suicide

Should Doctors Assisting Suicide Be Held Criminally Liable?

Learning Objectives

  • Know the response of the common law and of U.S. statutory law to suicide and to assisted suicide.
  • Understand the constitutional right of individuals nearing death to refuse medical treatment.
  • Comprehend how states differ in their approach to medically assisted suicide.
  • Know the arguments for and against doctors assisting suicide.

Oppose Doctors Assisting Suicide

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, majority opinion, Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)

Michigan Supreme Court, memorandum opinion, People v. Kevorkian, 527 N.W.2d 714 (Mich. 1994)

Support Doctors Assisting Suicide

Justice John Paul Stevens, concurring, Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)

Justice John Warner, concurring, Baxter v. State, 224 P.3d 1211 (Mt. 2009)


The common law viewed suicide as ...

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