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Physician-Assisted Suicide
"No man is an island."
John Donne

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Harold Glucksberg et al.
Physician-Assisted Suicide

Justice Stevens Concurrence
June 26, 1997
Seal Of The Supreme Court

Much more than the State's paternalistic interest in protecting the individual from the irrevocable consequences of an ill advised decision motivated by temporary concerns is at stake. There is truth in John Donne's observation that "No man is an island." The State has an interest in preserving and fostering the benefits that every human being may provide to the community — a community that thrives on the exchange of ideas, expressions of affection, shared memories and humorous incidents as well as on the material contributions that its members create and support. The value to others of a person's life is far too precious to allow the individual to claim a constitutional entitlement to complete autonomy in making a decision to end that life. Thus, I fully agree with the Court that the "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause does not include a categorical "right to commit suicide which itself includes a right to assistance in doing so."

Poem excerpt:


No man is an Illand, intire of it itselfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promonotorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in the Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.