Paradox and Pandora’s Box: The Tragedy of Current Right-to-Die Jurisprudence

Part I of this Article examines the trilogy of recent right-to-die cases and contrasts the results of those cases with recent national opinion polls and statistical surveys of the issue. Part II examines federal and state legislative responses to the debate. It suggests that both the courts and legislatures are out of sync with an emerging national consensus on the death-with- dignity debate. In fact, the federal legislative response may only exacerbate the problem. Instead of creating new rights, it feeds individuals into the existing state network, which is a quagmire of confusing and inequitable statutory provisions. Part III examines some recent state legislation addressing the special problem of patients who have not created advance health-care directives. Finally, Part IV proposes a new legislative framework-the “Uniform Patient- Family Determination Rights Act”-which would coordinate the goals of the recently enacted federal initiative with a uniform state model framework. This new legislative framework advances three national objectives-“prevention,” “uniformity,” and “patient-family determination rights”-which must be advanced in order to deal more effectively with this national problem.