Physician-assisted Suicide is not Federally Mandated
Physician-assisted suicide is not federally mandated due to the lack of bipartisanship in Congress, the principles of federalism, and contributions from conservative organizations and interest groups.
The attitudes and moral acceptability about certain behaviors and actions differ significantly among Republicans and Democrats. According to a 2007 survey, 62% of Democrats support doctors assisting a terminally ill patient to commit suicide, while only 49% of Republicans support this notion (Gallup, Inc 2007). 59% of Democrats also find physician-assisted suicide to be morally acceptable, comparing to the 54% of Republicans that feel it is morally wrong (Gallup, Inc 2007).
George W. Bush, a Republican, served as president from 2001 to 2009. During his administration, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress from 2003 to 2007 (“”Republicans Last Controlled U.S. Government in 1928 and Depression Followed?”” 2017). Because the Republican party dominated both chambers, the Democratic party’s agenda was not being entirely addressed, leaving certain groups and issues disenfranchised, accounting for the lack of federal funding and support for physician-assisted suicide.
The lack of federal funding for physician-assisted suicide is also largely a result of dual federalism. Divided sovereignty maintains specific parameters by which the balance of power is maintained. The sphere of influence maintained by state governments encompasses the conduct to be considered within the realm of medicine as derived from the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution; states are granted the power to establish and enforce laws protecting the welfare and health of the public (“”Police Powers”” 2015). Making rules regarding a medical practice for care and treatment of patients is therefore specifically authorized under state law (Brushwood), which includes the option of physician-assisted suicide. There is also a certain unwillingness to yield medical judgements to federal officials who lack medical expertise. Justice Louis Brandeis also places emphasis on the importance of federalism through state experimentation. States may serve as “”laboratories of democracy”” (“”Laboratories of Democracy”” 2017), where they could try social and economic experiments without risk of the rest of the country’s potential disapproval. The concept of physician-assisted suicide is therefore left up to the states and their citizens. The consequences and approaches to issues that are left up to the states also become clearer through actual practice, rather than having the federal courts intervene beforehand.
Interest groups and organizations work with politicians to draft legislation and public policies. They have the financial resources to influence politicians by making donations and providing services, which creates an obligation for the politicians to return favors for the institution. Among prominent organizations vital to the federal government is the Catholic Church and related charities. Much of the charity work is distributing food, running homeless shelters, and providing refugee services and rehabilitation (Riddell 2015); Catholic Charities USA alone has more than 2,500 agencies that serve 10 million people annually (“”Does the Catholic church provide half of social services in the U.S.?””). The federal government increasingly relies on the Church, and even sought help for Lyndon B. Johnson’s “”War on Poverty”” (Riddell 2015). As a result, Catholic Charities USA receives about 65 percent of its annual budget from state and federal governments; the Church and its charities have received more than $1.6 billion in U.S. contracts and grants (Riddell 2015). The Catholic Church is rooted in the United States government’s welfare system, making it an essential asset to the federal government.
The principles of Catholic social teaching include life and dignity of the human person. The Catholic Church places emphasis on the value of human life, and claims that “”in our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia”” (“”Principles of Catholic Social Teaching””). Because of the Church’s opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and its deep-seated influence in the social welfare of the federal government, the government will avoid addressing and creating public policies regarding assisted death to appease the Church and continue to reap its benefits.