Right-to-Die Policies in the American States: Judicial and Legislative Innovation

Right-to-Die Policies in the American States: Judicial and Legislative Innovation

Right-to-Die Policies in the American States: Judicial and Legislative Innovation

Right-to-Die Policies in the American States: Judicial and Legislative Innovation

Synopsis

Citing cases illustrating the contentious legal issues that modern medicine's ability to prolong the dying process has raised for end-of- life medical decision-making, Smith (political science, U. of North Texas) overviews the history of the US right-to-die movement, and the link between legislative and judicial policies. Applying event history analysis and his typology of policy innovations in a rare empirical study of the diffusion of judicial doctrines and policies, he seeks to explain the determinants of states' permissive policy adoption and reinvention via study of right- to-die policies of the late 1970s to 1994 relating to living will, proxy, and surrogate laws/statutes. Policy salience was found to be a crucial variable. Appends a listing of right-to-die statutes by State, and methodological notes. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Excerpt

This book attempts to tell the story of the adoption and creation of rightto-die policies in the American states. The focus of this work is not physician assisted suicide or any other type of widely publicized active euthanasia, but on passive euthanasia and policies regulating the refusal of unwanted, life-prolonging medical treatment for persons with terminal illnesses.

Like many analyses in the social sciences, my study utilizes a policy innovation framework, but there are several features which distinguish my approach from much of the scholarship found in the extant literature. First, I argue that the diffusion of policy innovations is a dynamic process through which states (and other adopting entities) continuously revise and update their policy creations. Accordingly, instead of simply focusing on the date of adoption of a single policy, the most common type of effort in innovation research, I explicitly model the interaction of time-serial and cross-sectional changes in policy content throughout the study period. In addition, I develop a theory of policy adoption which attempts to show hosion cycles during which states adopt new policy instruments (“tangential” innovations) to address the same social problem or policy objectives. Finally, most political science research has focused on the adoption of legislative policies in the American states. While state assembles are important sources of policy production, it is important to realize that “innovative” elected lawmakers are often “forced in to action” by the decisions of actors in other branches of government, particularly state judiciaries. In addition to estimating models of legislative policy adoption and renovation, this study also . . .

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