One of the many benefits of an interdisciplinary seminar like the Allen Chair-sponsored Bioethics seminar held at the University of Richmond Law School in 1995 was that members of the seminar had the opportunity to study the effects of the legal system's attempt to regulate bioethical issues. No question proved more troubling for the seminar than the question of physician-assisted suicide. Seminar participants, both members of the class and speakers, divided deeply on the legality of physician-assisted suicide, and for good reason. The discussions started with court decisions that were found to be both divisive and unsatisfactory. A number of recent court decisions dealing with physician-assisted suicide brought home the point that there are some dilemmas in life whose outcomes should not be left to the courts.' Not only were the courts' holdings hopelessly contradictory to earlier pronouncements, but the courts' analyses were unsatisfactory due to the bipolarization caused by the language of equality and rights that pervaded the legal analyses. The courts' decisions seemed simply to miss the real issues and were unable to weigh the particular circumstances in which physician-assisted suicide seemed appropriate.
Paul J. Zwier,
Looking for a Nonlegal Process: Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Care Perspective,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol30/iss1/7