Direct democracy, the political process that enables citizens to draft, circulate, and enact laws, has become the refuge for grassroots organizations seeking statutory validation in a legislative arena perceived to be unresponsive or unfriendly to their concerns. One group of citizens, advocates for physician-aid-in-dying, has recently emerged on the national scene, sponsoring state ballot initiatives in three states and pledging to continue their quest for legalization of physician-assisted death throughout the country. In this Article, Professor Daar examines the interplay between direct democracy and regulation of end-of-life decision making. This examination reveals that lawmaking by initiative, as seen through the campaigns to gain legalization of physician-aid-in-dying, is no less susceptible to the ravages of political wrangling than is representative democracy. Professor Daar argues that direct democracy is best utilized as a spur to legislative action rather than as a replacement for the study and compromise unique to legislating through representative democracy. In addition, the author advocates recognition of a constitutionally protected liberty interest in choices surrounding death, thus providing a threshold level of protection to all citizens, not just those whose lawmakers or citizens are motivated to codify this fundamental right.
Judith F. Daar,
Direct Democracy and Bioethical Choices: Voting Life and Death at the Ballot Box,
U. Mich. J. L. Reform
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjlr/vol28/iss4/3