Death, Legal and Illegal
January 10, 1997
The issue of physician-assisted suicide has at last made its way before the Supreme Court. The first hearing, which took place on Wednesday, January 8, was uncharacteristically philosophical for this court. "Most of us have parents and other loved ones who have been through the dying process, and we've thought about these things," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out during the session.
The controversy surrounding the issue is not new. Writing in The Atlantic in
Death, Legal and Illegal (1974), theology professor Daniel C. Maguire
considered some of the legal ramifications of deliberate, non-malevolent
termination of human life, focusing primarily on cases of "mercy killing." He
suggested that current United States law is incapable of addressing the
subtleties of mercy-killing cases: "Mercy killings
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.