High Court Upholds Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Law


The Supreme Court today upheld Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law, reports the Associated Press. The ruling rejected a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die. In a 6-3 decision, the court said the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people trumped federal authority to regulate doctors. The ruling means that the administration improperly tried to use a federal drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft said in 2001 that doctor-assisted suicide is not a “legitimate medical purpose.”

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the “authority claimed by the attorney general is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design.” Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, along with Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Said Scalia: “If the term `legitimate medical purpose’ has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/17/AR2006011700435.html

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