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Seattle Times Letter to the Editor by our Board President, Robert Free

Reject Gorsuch: Aid in Dying

Washington state residents should be particularly concerned about the prospect of Judge Neil Gorsuch becoming a Supreme Court justice.
There are many reasons both to support or oppose his confirmation by the Senate, but one area of Judge Gorsuch’s history and judicial philosophy must be thoroughly examined. Judge Gorsuch has stated his opposition to laws which permit terminal patients to hasten their death with physician assistance — laws including Washington’s own Death with Dignity Act, passed by initiative in 2008, with almost 60 percent of the vote. Judge Gorsuch authored a book in 2006, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” in which he argued that terminally-ill patients do not have a right and should not be permitted the choice to hasten their own death with their doctor’s assistance, regardless of their suffering. To permit this, he argues, is immoral.
End of Life Washington (formerly Compassion & Choices of Washington), which drafted the 2008 initiative and monitored and oversaw its implementation, can attest that our law has helped many Washingtonians choose a peaceful, dignified death and that the imagined abuses foreseen by opponents of the law have not come to pass.
It is possible that death with dignity cases may come before the Supreme Court again, as one did in 2006 when President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft challenged Oregon’s law. In Gonzalez v. Oregon, the Court’s majority ruled in favor of Oregon, but that outcome is not guaranteed in the future if Judge Gorsuch advocates and votes for a different result.
The Senate must press the nominee to affirm that he will not interfere with states’ laws which give freedom of choice to their citizens. This issue affects not only Washington and the five other states — California, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont and Montana — which have legalized aid in dying, but the many other states which are considering passing similar freedom of choice laws for their citizens.

Robert Free, president, End of Life Washington

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