“The fact that the refusal of treatment and suicide may both lead to death does not mean that they implicate identical constitutional concerns. The imposition of life-sustaining medical treatment against a patient’s will requires a direct invasion of bodily integrity and, in some cases, the use of physical restraints, both of which are flatly inconsistent with society’s basic conception of personal dignity… It is this right against intrusion–not a general right to control the timing and manner of death–that forms the basis of the constitutional right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. Restrictions on suicide, by contrast, entail no such intrusions, but simply prevent individuals from intervening in the natural process of dying.
While restrictions on suicide do limit individual autonomy, the bare fact that individual options are constrained does not render such limits unconstitutional… Indeed, in recent years the Supreme Court has afforded constitutional protection only to those individual practices ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.’ While the merits of this constitutional doctrine are subject to debate, its effect on the constitutional distinction between the refusal of treatment and suicide is clear. On the one hand, the right to refuse treatment has a well-established history in the laws of informed consent and battery. On the other hand, individuals have never been granted a right to control the timing and manner of their death; indeed, suicide was illegal in many states for most of this nation’s history, and, even after decriminalization, society continues to discourage suicide and seek to prevent individuals from taking their own lives. The historical opposition to suicide, while neither necessary nor sufficient to the Task Force’s own constitutional analysis, makes it virtually inconceivable that the United States Supreme Court would recognize a constitutional right to commit suicide.”May 1994