A Natural Right to Die: Twenty-Three Centuries of Debate by Raymond A. Whiting

By Raymond A. Whiting

Whereas different books care for the modern factor of the ideal to die, no try out has been made to illustrate considerably the ancient nature of this question past the borders of the us. Whiting demonstrates that definitely the right to die controversy stretches again greater than thousand years, and he explains how present attitudes and practices within the U.S. were encouraged by way of the criminal and cultural improvement of the traditional western global. this attitude permits the reader to appreciate not just the origins of the debate, but in addition the several views that every age has contributed to the continuing debate.Whiting discusses the improvement of felony rights inside of either western tradition and the USA, then applies those advancements to the query of definitely the right to die. In an atmosphere of public debate that includes such emotional occasions because the exploits of Jack Kevorkian, the booklet of ways to suicide manuals, and the counterattacks of correct to existence teams, the us is left with only a few thoughts.

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His actions became so brazen that a new prosecutor felt he had no choice but to bring charges against him; suddenly, Dr. Kevorkian was facing a fifth trial (New York Times, 20 March 1999, Al). From the very beginning, Dr. Kevorkian's fifth murder trial was characteristically different from the previous four. Most notable is the fact that Dr. Kevorkian insisted on acting as his own attorney and, in doing so, demonstrated to the jury his lack of knowledge of the law. Within the courtroom, Dr. Kevorkian gave the impression of being inept and confused, frequently asking legally impermissible questions and raising ill-timed and inappropriate legal arguments for venue (New York Times, 24 March 1999, A20).

The court further concluded that the state had no law against assisting in a suicide and that therefore the doctor's actions could not be said to constitute a crime (New York Times, 14 December 1990, 1; 25 October 1991, 1). By 1983, state courts had begun to support the "right to die" more aggressively, in some instances even setting aside the limiting provisions of state living will legislation. In the case of Barber v. Superior Court, the court ruled that, the provisions of the California living will statute notwithstanding, its citizens had the right to refuse medical treatment and that this right could not be limited by any interpretation of the state's statute.

In 1997 a Michigan Circuit Court for the County of Genesee put into practice the principle that a violation of a patient's wishes concerning lifesustaining treatment, even when given by a third party under a durable power of attorney for health care, is a battery. In the case of Osgoodv. Genesee Regional Medical Center, the jury awarded a substantial monetary verdict based on the premise that unwanted medical treatment was a battery that caused mental anguish, as well as past and future expenses for medical care and treatment.

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