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Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide,
and the Right to Die

A Guide to Selected Government and Legal Information

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Search Tips:

Mix and match these terms in searching the library catalog, WestCat , or use them to search journal articles and law reviews via the library's Databases page. You can also use them to search government information sites listed on our Starting Points page - click the tab and pay particular attention to the Top Six.

  • euthanasia
  • assisted suicide
  • physician-assisted suicide
  • health care power of attorney
  • right to die
  • living will
  • advance directives
  • do not resuscitate
  • mercy killing
  • death
  • life support
  • patient refusal of treatment
  • death with dignity
  • sanctity of life
  • bioethics
  • religion and medicine
  • medical ethics
  • moral and ethical aspects

Related Topics:
  • constitutional rights
  • palliative care

An important source for many research topics is Congress. Congressional committees and subcommittees hold hearings on a wide variety of controversial and timely subjects. Simply add the word "hearing?" to a search string in WestCat .

Search Engines

Google and StartPage
Use these search engines to search for government information by typing "site:gov" in the search box preceding your search terms:

  • site:gov "assisted suicide"
Law Review Articles

Law reviews are an important resource for legal topics like this one. They can lead you to laws and cases as well as discuss legal theory. A few law journals are indexed in multidisciplinary databases, but the best bang for your buck will be to search Nexis Uni for full-text access to many hundreds of law reviews.

Federal Government Information

This database searches medical journal articles from all over the world, and includes articles on euthanasia and assisted suicide. Some articles are full-text.

Honoring Final Wishes: How to Respect American’s Choices at the End of Life

This hearing is about advance directives and similar end-of-life practices to ensure patient wishes are carried out by the healthcare industry.
Y 4.AG 4:S.HRG.110-841

The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

The distinction between physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia and their corresponding pros and cons are highlighted in this hearing.

Cover Memorandum Upon the Reissuance of the NCD Statement Opposing Legalization of Assisted Suicide

The National Council on Disability fears allowing assisted suicide would lead to euthanasia of the disabled.

Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Netherlands

This hearing describes how assisted suicide has changed in the Netherlands. It also implies what will happen if the U.S. legalizes physician-assisted suicide. 1996.
Y4. J89/1:P 56

Legal Information
Laws and Cases

Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, ORS 127.800, et seq. (1997)
Washington's Death with Dignity Act, RCW 70.245, et seq. (2008)
Vermont's Patient Choice at End of Life, 18 VSA §5281, et seq. (2013)
Baxter v. State of Montana , 224 P.3d 1211 (2009)
Washington v. Glucksberg , 521 U.S. 702 (1997)
Vacco v. Quill , 521 U.S. 793 (1997)

"Looking for a 'Good Death': The Elderly Terminally Ill's Right to Die by Physician-Assisted Suicide"

This article examines court decisions involving state legislation and their impact on the practice of physician-assisted suicide nationwide.
17 Elder L.J. 61, via Nexis Uni

Death on Demand

A research guide featuring useful legal and non-legal material available on the topic of physician-assisted suicide.
LEGL REF KF 241. T67 D47 1996

"Assisted Suicide and Disability: Another Perspective"

This article asserts that society, the legal system, and a profit-driven health care system discriminate against persons with disabilities and that legalized assisted suicide invites the idea that it is acceptable to kill those who are not perfect without an examination of other options.
Human Rights.Vol. 27, No. 1 Winter 2000 pp. 6-8

"Michigan State Medical Society Mackinac Island Conference on Bioethics: A Deliberation on Ethics in Medicine"

This entire issue is devoted to physician-assisted suicide and includes a speech given by the leading proponent of physician-assisted death, Dr. Timothy Quill. Other speeches deliver the American Medical Perspective on physician-assisted suicide and analyze public policy.
University of Detroit Mercy Law Review Spring 1998 Vol. 75, No. 3

"The Illusion of Autonomy at the End of Life: Unconsented Life Support and the Wrongful Life Analogy"

Provides data about behavior of physicians when a patient refuses life support and concludes that a physician who ignores a patient's refusal of life supporting technology should be held liable for compensatory damages. Reviews law that governs damage actions for unconsented life support and compares decisions involving wrongful life claims.
UCLA Law Review February 1998 Vol. 45, No. 3 pp. 674-732

Subject Guides