Physician-Assisted Suicide: Removing Residency Requirements in the U.S. to Comport with an International Right to Health

Author(s)

Alexi Silverman

Details

Faculty editor: Michael Ramsey
Publication: International Law Journal
Volume: 19
Issue: 1
Start Page: 193
Month: November
Year: 2017
Type: Comment
Instititional Repository (IR): View full article

Abstract

In 1948, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution, known as the International Bill of Human Rights. The Bill contains the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articulating a human right to health. A subsequent treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “every human being has the inherent right to life.” Furthermore, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights protects access to healthcare. However, these treaties do not explicitly recognize a “right to die,” leaving the decision of whether to allow euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide within the discretion of individual countries. With this international background in mind, this Comment will explore terminally ill individuals’ access to physician-assisted suicide in the United States, arguing that states that legalize this end-of-life option should remove their residency requirements. Part I will introduce the concept of the human right to health and how the right is interpreted by two countries —the United States and the Netherlands. Part II will discuss the current legal status of PAS in the United States. In Part III, this Comment will argue that states should remove their residency requirements for constitutional reasons, as such discrimination against non-residents is likely unconstitutional under Article IV’s Privileges and Immunities Clause. Further, even if states do not remove their residency requirements for constitutional reasons, they should do so for moral reasons. The current PAS situation will be analogized to another controversial medical service—abortion—during the pre-Roe era, in which one state, New York, defied the masses and removed its residency requirement. Finally, Part IV will argue that states should remove residency requirements for human rights reasons.