Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Supreme Court to Challenge Euthanasia Law

Justices will review a lower court ruling that said the U.S. government cannot sanction or hold doctors criminally liable for prescribing overdoses under Oregon's voter-approved Death With Dignity Act. Since 1998, more than 170 people — most with cancer — have used the law to end their lives. Arguments will be heard in the court's next term, which begins in October.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft filed the appeal last November, on the day his resignation was announced by the White House, arguing that physician-assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" and that doctors take an oath to heal patients, not help them die.

Oregon countered by saying that regulation of doctors generally has been the sole responsibility of the states. Ashcroft has no authority under the federal Controlled Substances Act to punish doctors because Congress intended the law only to prevent illegal drug trafficking, the state argued.

Interesting choice of words. An act that protects patients from being murdered by their doctors is a way of "punishing" doctors.

Click here to read the entire article.

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