A Comparative Analysis of Physician-Assisted Suicide Policy in Canada and the United States of America

Spiess, Robin [Browse]
Senior thesis


Shapiro, Jacob N. [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
This thesis introduces a comparative analysis of the contemporary evolution of public policies regarding physician-assisted suicide [PAS] in the US and Canada. After first presenting present-day legislation on PAS in various countries, this thesis seeks to introduce the US and Canada as highly comparable nations whose Supreme Court decisions concerning PAS have recently brought the countries to approach PAS policy in different ways. The argument presented over the course of this paper regarding the US and Canadian split on PAS policy is that this phenomenon does not rest in any differences between US and Canadian citizens’ willingness to adopt these policies, but rather in the very institutions on which these nations are based and the differences between them: while each are constitutional democracies, the constitutions of these two nations are different enough to allow for unique approaches by the courts to PAS and to similar issues. So too is the divide between federal and state governments in the US drawn differently than the divide between the federal and provincial governments, which in essence allows states and provinces different rights with regard to legislative processes. The PAS issue serves as a prime example of how this divide is drawn differently in each of these countries.

Supplementary Information