It is not hard to identify the high water mark for the opposition to Death with Dignity legislation: it was June 26, 1997, the day Justice Rehnquist announced a unanimous Supreme Court’s judgment in Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997).
For those of us committed to enactment of Medical Aid in Dying legislation across the country, the writings of Judge Gorsuch give us pause. In a full length book and several law review articles, Gorsuch is unambiguous in his disdain for such laws. He views the practice, based on worst case scenarios extrapolated from a limited data sampling as of 2002 of the Oregon and Dutch experience, as a parade of horribles.
Reading Judge Gorsuch’s well researched articles against Medical Aid in Dying, I am struck by his dismissive critique of the Oregon regime as nothing more than unqualified doctors killing unwilling patients. He has reviewed data from the Netherlands where euthanasia is practiced and in fact preferred by patients who have a long standing relationship with their primary medical provider and who are in extremis.
Despite protestations by United States Senate Democrats that they will give as good as they got, the likelihood of successfully filibustering Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination ad infinitum is slim, if for no other reason Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always dispense with the filibuster requirement by simple majority vote. Thus, it behooves us all to become familiar with the thinking of this brilliant 49-year old jurist who is likely to be on the court for a generation or more.
For most of humanity, individuals rarely reached an advanced age. Life was cruel, brutish and short. If you even survived childhood, and most did not, you faced any host of rampant diseases, all of which are now treatable, and most of which were poorly understood in the first place. The medical profession was as likely to do more harm than good in its treatment and beliefs.