Bioethics & SCOTUS Appointment

Some of us had hoped that bioethics would have been an issue in the presidential election of 2016, but that was not to be. Now, less than three weeks into the Trump presidency, bioethics appears to have resurfaced in the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

Amidst all the media coverage of his appointment, The Washington Post, among others, made note of the fact that Judge Gorsuch has published a book arguing against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia is temporarily out of stock on Amazon , but the Post writer offers a summary of the 2006 publication, calling it “exhaustive, but evenhanded, treating respectfully the positions of those who disagree with him.” The premise of Gorusch’s argument is that “. . . [A]ll human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

During the nomination process, Judge Gorsuch will be asked all kinds of questions on any number of important legal issues. In light of the recent activity in the United States on physician-assisted suicide laws, I am hoping that at least one senator will ask him how his views on PAS and euthanasia may have changed in the past decade.

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Mark McQuain
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Mark McQuain

You beat me to this. I am midway through the kindle version of his book. He writes well and nicely explains the legal terms needed to understand the arguments as viewed by SCOTUS. With regard to distinctions among withdrawal of life support, PAS and euthanasia, he seems to believe the dividing line is whether or not there is intent to kill in these situations where there is the element of double effect (i.e. relief of pain vs. respiratory suppression causing death).

As you say, the book was written 10 years ago so I, like you, await his testimony.