Dr. Birnbaum has presented in a most eloquent fashion his case for the right to treatment. His position is simple and is easily understood. No person should be involuntarily confined to a mental institution if he will not receive meaningful treatment. To do otherwise would be to deprive one of liberty without due process of law. Dr. Birnbaum's position that substantive due process requires substantive treatment it seems to me is irrefutable. If we assume that the patient who is confined against his will is not "dangerous" to society in the strictest sense of that word, then the only defensible reason for depriving him of his liberty is to treat him so that he can rejoin society as a useful and productive person. To confine him in the hospital; throw away the key and pay no attention to whether the substantive grounds for his confinement are being met is indeed a cruel hoax. To date the United States Supreme Court has yet to act to recognize this right; but, surely after the decision of In re Gault, in which the Court recognized that a jail is a jail regardless that the juvenile has been placed there under a civil rather than criminal procedure, the day when this right shall be given legal recognition is not in the distant future.
Aaron D. Twerski,
Treating the Untreatable - A Critique of the Proposed Pennsylvania Right to Treatment Law,
Duq. L. Rev.
Available at: https://dsc.duq.edu/dlr/vol9/iss2/5