At Liberty to Die: The Battle for Death with Dignity in America

Front Cover
NYU Press, Jun 11, 2012 - Law - 224 pages

Over the past hundred years, average life expectancy in America has nearly doubled, due largely to scientific and medical advances, but also as a consequence of safer working conditions, a heightened awareness of the importance of diet and health, and other factors. Yet while longevity is celebrated as an achievement in modern civilization, the longer people live, the more likely they are to succumb to chronic, terminal illnesses. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 47 years, with a majority of American deaths attributed to influenza, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or other diseases. In 2000, the average life expectancy was nearly 80 years, and for too many people, these long lifespans included cancer, heart failure, Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, or other fatal illnesses, and with them, came debilitating pain and the loss of a once-full and often independent lifestyle. In this compelling and provocative book, noted legal scholar Howard Ball poses the pressing question: is it appropriate, legally and ethically, for a competent individual to have the liberty to decide how and when to die when faced with a terminal illness?

At Liberty to Die charts how, the right of a competent, terminally ill person to die on his or her own terms with the help of a doctor has come deeply embroiled in debates about the relationship between religion, civil liberties, politics, and law in American life. Exploring both the legal rulings and the media frenzies that accompanied the Terry Schiavo case and others like it, Howard Ball contends that despite raging battles in all the states where right to die legislation has been proposed, the opposition to the right to die is intractable in its stance. Combining constitutional analysis, legal history, and current events, Ball surveys the constitutional arguments that have driven the right to die debate.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Changing Nature of Death in America
13
2 The Plight of the Incompetent Patient in a Permanent Vegetative State PVS
27
3 Terri Schiavos Tragic Odyssey 19902005
51
4 What Freedom Do We Have to Die with Dignity? The US Supreme Court Decides 1997
67
Passing Legislation Allowing Death with Dignity
105
Oregon and Washington
131
7 Americas Transplants
163
Notes
173
Cases Cited
205
Bibliography
207
Index
217
About the Author
229
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Howard Ball is Emeritus Professor of Political Science and University Scholar at the University of Vermont and Adjunct Professor of Law at Vermont Law School.

Bibliographic information