The right-to-die argument took center stage on the third day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings, prompting an emotional response from nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.
In 2006, Gorsuch wrote a book titled "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia" about the ethical and legal debate surrounding the issues. In the book, Gorsuch said he opposed assisted suicide and euthanasia, including death with dignity laws, which make the practices legal in five states.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, broached the topic during her line of questioning.
Feinstein endorsed the California assisted suicide bill, which would allow terminally ill people to request life-ending medication from their doctors, in 2015. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the landmark legislation later that year that would allow terminally ill people to request life-ending medication from their doctors.
"I, in my life, have seen people die horrible deaths -- family, of cancer -- when there was no hope. And my father begging me, 'stop this, Dianne, I’m dying,'" Feinstein said. "My father was a professor of surgery."
"Trying to save him--there are times you can't," she went on. "And the suffering becomes so pronounced, I just went through this with a close friend. This is real and it's very hard. So tell us what your position is in the situation with California's end of life option act, as well as what you have said on assisted suicide."
Gorsuch grew somewhat emotional in his response, describing his position and his own experiences.
"We've all been through it with family. My heart goes out to you, it does, and I've been there with my dad, okay? And others," he said.
"And at some point you want to be left alone. Enough with the poking and the prodding. I want to go home and die in my own bed in the arms of my family," he went on.
In answer to the question of extreme pain at the end of life for the terminally ill, he said he advocated for medical solutions, even if they came with risks.
"The position I took in the book on that was anything necessary to alleviate pain would be appropriate and acceptable, even if it caused death, not intentionally, but knowingly," he said. "I drew a line between intent and knowingly."
"I have been there," he said, pointedly. "I have been. There."