Vacco v. Quill

521 U.S. 793 (1997)


Quill (P) are New York physicians who assert that it is consistent with their medical practice to prescribe lethal medication for mentally competent terminally ill patients who are suffering great pain and desire a doctor's help in taking their own life. They are banned from doing so by New York's law against assisting suicides. They contend that this violates Equal Protection. The District Court disagreed; the resolution of this issue is left to the normal democratic processes within the State. The Second Circuit reversed; the law does not treat persons similarly situated as it allows terminally ill patients on life support to remove that support but does not allow hastening of death by the administration of prescribed drugs.