In the News
In a 1997 TV interview, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts gave a revealing quote on assisted dying. "I think it's important not to have too narrow a view of protecting personal rights. The right that was protected in the assisted-suicide case was the right of the people through their legislatures to articulate their own views on the policies that should apply in those cases of terminating life, and not to have the court interfering in those policy decisions. That's an important right."
Roberts has not heard any end-of-life policy cases per se, making it difficult to predict his stance with any certainty. However, this quote is a good reflection of his record of strong respect for states' rights and an approach to statutory construction which involves careful and close reading of laws. These indicators suggest he would not favor the federal government in Gonzales v. Oregon, the U.S. Attorney General's attack on Oregon's assisted-dying law. Arguments in the case are scheduled to be heard October 5.
In a move most welcome as we work to pass the California Compassionate Choices Act, the California Democratic Party has adopted a resolution to support assisted dying. Adopted in July, the resolution states that party members "stand in strong support of efforts to ensure death with dignity for all Californians."
Across the country, agencies that provide information and forms for living wills and advance directives for health care have been deluged with requests. The Terri Schiavo case, which garnered national attention this year, captured the interest of many younger people, since Terri was only 26 when she suffered her initial collapse. As a result, Compassion & Choices has filled more than 27,000 requests for advance directive kits, and other agencies report similar spikes.
The increased interest of younger people in our movement and work is a welcome trend. With living wills and end-of-life decisions now a common topic at universities, high schools and youth-oriented companies, Compassion & Choices is reaching out. Our recently introduced interactive blog, Final Say, encourages Internet users to speak out on these important topics. Visit online at www.finalsay.org.
An idea that began last spring in the United Kingdom has also taken hold in America. Mobile phone users are encouraged to list an emergency contact in their cell phone address book under the acronym ICE -- In Case of Emergency. Paramedics and hospitals can use this information to reach your next of kin or designated decision-maker if you are unable to communicate.
This article was provided by Compassion & Choices. It is a part of the publication Compassion & Choices Magazine.