The title of the 2009 book written by Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s pick to fill the conservative shoes of Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, pretty much says it all. It’s called, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Not “death with dignity,” mind you, but “assisted suicide,” which is how Gorsuch sees it ― and he’s clearly not a supporter.
In his book, Gorsuch upholds the principle of patient autonomy but makes the case against legalization of the practice of terminally ill patients taking the reins of their own deaths. Gorsuch wrote that “human life is intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.” He maintains that while a patient’s refusal of unwanted medical treatment is morally acceptable, any intentional efforts to accelerate death are immoral.
By deeming the practice “assisted suicide,” he leaves no doubt about where he stands.
Alarmed that death with dignity measures have gained popular support and legal standing, The Federalist heralded Gorsuch’s nomination as “a great relief to have a legal expert who stands with human dignity on the Supreme Court,” citing his book for building “a case against legalization based on moral and legal arguments.”
Of course, the response from those who feel quite the opposite about death with dignity came just as quickly.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) voiced “serious concerns” about the Supreme Court nominee Tuesday, saying in a statement that Gorsuch’s “opposition to legal death with dignity as successfully practiced in Oregon is couched in the sort of jurisprudence that justified the horrific oppression of one group after another in our first two centuries.”
The issue grabbed the national spotlight when Brittany Maynard, a California native suffering from terminal brain cancer, moved to Oregon (the first U.S. state to legally allow physician-assisted suicide) to be able to end her life. Before her death at age 29, on Nov. 1, 2014, she lobbied for California and other states to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, and her family has continued to advocate for the cause.
A 2015 Gallup Poll found that 68 percent of Americans believe doctors should be legally allowed to assist terminally ill patients in committing suicide. Now, if someone could just convince this prospective Supreme Court justice.