The nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy organization, Compassion & Choices, warned that Senate confirmation of President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, could seriously weaken the right of individuals to make their own personal healthcare decisions.
Judge Gorsuch opposes medical aid in dying as an option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults to peacefully end unbearable suffering. He wrote “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia (2006),” heralded as “the most comprehensive argument against their legalization – ever published.”
“A judge who is willing to allow others, including corporations, to impose their religious beliefs on individuals making personal healthcare decisions at the end of life would be a dangerous addition to the nation’s highest court,” said Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices. “Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take if their suffering becomes unbearable and die peacefully in their sleep. Medical aid in dying is different from a legal and medical standpoint than assisted suicide or euthanasia, which are both unlawful throughout the United States.”
“Twice since 1998 we have prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court and achieved protection for Oregon’s medical aid-in-dying law from federal tampering,” said Díaz. “If Judge Gorsuch sits on the high court, we could imagine a Supreme Court decision that prevents meaningful access to medical aid in dying nationwide. A change in the Court’s position could significantly impact Americans’ freedom to make healthcare decisions in line with their own values across the country.”
National and state polling consistently shows the vast majority of Americans across the political and religious spectrum support medical aid in dying. This end-of-life care option is authorized in six states: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California and Colorado. In addition, Congress is reviewing medical aid in dying legislation approved by the D.C. Council and 16 states are considering similar legislation (Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Utah).
“We may be entering the most challenging era this movement has ever seen,” concluded Díaz. “We are already gearing up to protect these rights and build partnerships with national legal organizations to join us in this fight. And our on-the-ground action teams are growing their ranks and getting poised to act to oppose this nomination. It could be the difference between the opportunity to build on the momentum of recent legislative victories California in 2015, and Colorado and Washington, D.C. in 2016, and the erosion of the right of individuals to make their own personal healthcare decisions.”