of the Premature-Death Approach to the Right-to-Die
to Ban the Right-to-Die
Using Physician Licensing
When only licensed physicians are permitted to
opponents of the right-to-die will attempt to use
the laws about the licensing of physicians
as a way to prevent the life-ending behavior they deplore.
For example, a state law might provide
that any physician who prescribes a deadly drug
will lose his or her license to practice medicine in that state.
Hippocratic Oath provides a basis:
"I will give no deadly drug, even if asked."
If physicians might lose their
licenses to practice medicine,
they would stop prescribing life-ending drugs.
And the right-to-die laws that authorize
using drugs prescribed by a physician would become useless.
The more conservative countries of the world
are more likely to see this kind of legislative response.
In fact, it should come as no
that conservatives legislators would attempt to pass such a law
physicians from prescribing deadly drugs—
even before any right-to-die
legislation is introduced.
Whenever the right-to-die is contained within
the health-care section
of any set of laws,
those laws with regard to the licensing of physicians
will always provide pathways by which opponents of the right-to-die
might try to prevent or overturn laws
that explicitly permit doctors to prescribe lethal chemicals.
However, if the right-to-die is contained within
the homicide section
of any set of laws,
then no laws with regard to licensing physicians will be relevant.
Instead, those who believe that some harm has come to the patient
will have to prove such harm by looking at the specifics of each case.
And anyone considering helping with a chosen
will know that if the chosen
death actually harms the patient,
they might be
prosecuted under the law against causing premature death.
On the other hand, the same laws that prohibit
causing premature death
will also specify safeguards
to separate premature death from timely
And everyone who helps with a timely
death will not be prosecuted
because wise, end-of-life medical decisions do not harm the patient.
The dying patient benefits
from a wisely-chosen time and means of death.
Licensed physicians participate regularly in end-of-life medical
And their licenses to practice medicine
should never be threatened because they provide wise terminal care.
Created March 30,
2007; revised 3-31-2007; 2-1-2008; 8-25-2008; 3-5-2009; 6-10-2009;
1-18-2012; 1-26-2012; 2-29-2012; 3-30-2012; 9-7-2012; 4-7-2013
explanation of why laws prohibiting premature death
be stronger than gentle-poison laws
section K of Chapter 51 of How to Die:
Safeguards for Life-Ending Decisions:
"Prevents Attempts to Ban the Right-to-Die Using Physician Licensing"