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The Constitutional Right to Suicide

A Legal and Philosophical Examination


G. Steven Neeley and G. Steven Neeley

Medical technology has made it possible to sustain human existence past the point where the competent adult might rationally conclude that life is no longer worth living. Nevertheless, the current state of the law often makes it difficult, if not impossible, for an individual to have unfettered control over the act of dying, as determinations against medical intervention are frequently swept under broad legal proscriptions of self-directed death. This book cogently argues that an examination of the constitutional right to privacy and allied constitutional precepts reveal that the United States Constitution protects those decisions which are profoundly personal, intimate, and integral to the control of one's own destiny. The decision which fits this criterion more closely than any other is whether to continue living or not, for intrinsic to the control of one's life is the choice of electing to forego continued life. Hence, constitutional guarantees of individual liberty protect the right of the individual - at least under certain circumstances - to terminate his or her own existence.