Most Recent Issue

Freedom of Choice at the End of Life: Patients’ Rights in a Shifting Legal and Political Landscape

Introduction by Peter J. Strauss 

In the autumn of 1979, my mother killed the cats. We had seven; one morning, she grabbed four, took them to the vet and had them put to sleep. She said she didn’t want to feed them anymore. It occurred to me that she might be going mad…Read more

Right-to-Die Cases: A New York Historical Perspective by Sol Wachtler

“Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.”  After I was named Chief Judge of New York State, a position previously occupied by one of the noblest of jurists, Benjamin Cardozo, I went with my mother to see my new chambers and the desk I was to use—the desk that had been used by Cardozo himself. I said to my mother, “Just think of it, I will be using Benjamin Cardozo’s desk.” And my wise mother replied, “Yes, but remember, fifty years from today, it will still be Benjamin Cardozo’s desk.”…Read more

Give Me Liberty at My Death: Expanding End-of-Life Choice in Massachusetts by Kathryn L. Tucker 

Modern medicine can extend the dying process so long that a terminally ill patient may feel trapped in a torturous, inexorable, lingering decline. Sometimes the process takes too long and the suffering is unbearable. Some patients want to achieve a swifter, gentler end by ingesting medications prescribed to bring about a peaceful death, an option known as “aid in dying.”…Read more

A New Life for Wrongful Living by Nadia N. Sawicki 

A patient has an indisputable right under federal and state laws to set forth her wishes for end-of-life medical care in an advance directive or other legal document, or by way of a health care proxy. Such directives are legally binding in that they can be used to enjoin a medical provider from administering life-sustaining care against the patient’s wishes. However, if a medical provider wrongfully provides treatment in contravention of the patient’s directive, the force of this directive essentially vanishes…Read more

The Limits of Autonomy: Force-Feedings in Catholic Hospitals and in Prisons by Ann Neumann

“The right of sovereignty was the right to take life or let live. And then this new right is established: the right to make live and to let die.” For perhaps the first time in human history, the definition of death changed in the 1970s with the advent of new medical technologies…Read more

Advance Directives, Dementia, and Eligibility for Physician-Assisted Death by Paul T. Menzel 

In most of the jurisdictions where some form of physician-assisted death (PAD) is legal, the requesting individual must be competent to make medical decisions at the time of assistance. The requirement of contemporary competence is intended to ensure that PAD is limited to people who genuinely want to die and have decisionmaking cognitive ability at the time of a final choice with such enormous import…Read more

Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for Intractable Medical Futility Disputes by Thaddeus Mason Pope

In January 2008, seventy-three-year-old Ruben Betancourt was admitted to Trinitas Hospital, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for surgery on a thymus gland tumor. While the surgery was successful, during his post-operative recovery, Mr. Betancourt’s endotracheal tube became dislodged. This resulted in severe, irreversible brain damage. Mr. Betancourt was subsequently discharged to other health care facilities…Read more…

Context Matters: Disability, the End of Life, and Why the Conversation is Still So Difficult by Alicia Ouellette 

In the weeks prior to the symposium on which this volume of the New York Law School Law Review is based,1 the disability-rights group Not Dead Yet declared on its blog that the symposium was a “farce” that showed “ just how little respect and regard [the symposium organizers] have for people with disabilities.” The post took special issue with the third panel of the symposium, of which I was a participant…Read more…

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Law Review Diversity Report

In its 2011-2012 Law Review Diversity Report, the Law Review found for the second year in a row a relationship between gender diversity on a law school’s faculty and the gender diversity of law review membership. The results also showed that women are underrepresented in the EIC position and raise questions about whether this foreshadows low percentages of women in leadership in the legal profession. Read the full report here.