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Abstract

This Article explores the oftentimes mistaken notion that we can realistically identify severely ill individuals seeking physician-suicide who do so willingly, knowingly, and voluntarily. Medical science and medical practice support this proposition. To date, there exists no sound clinical basis for distinguishing suicidal patients with terminal conditions from suicidal patients without terminal conditions. Thus, it is a mistake to posit a reasonably identifiable patient population od adults with terminal diagnosis who can provide informed, voluntary consent to prescription lethal drugs. In practice, the medical community has failed to indentify and treat suicidal disorders. This Article concludes that suicide, including suicide by the physically ill, presents an urgent, unmet public health need in the United States. The Glucksberg and Vacco decisions presume the existence of a reasonably identifiable competent suicidal patient who is terminally ill, without engaging, the sizable empirical literature to the contrary.

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