WASHINGTON, February 23, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The US Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it would review a lower court decision upholding Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.
Last May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals narrowly upheld Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, after US Attorney General John Ashcroft challenged the law. The Department of Justice argued that the prescribing of lethal medications by doctors was in contravention of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Two of three state judges disagreed, arguing that the regulation of medical practice is outside the jurisdiction of the federal government.
David Stevens, M.D., executive director of the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association, said, “The Court has an opportunity to ensure that patients receive truly compassionate care and pain relief by limiting physicians’ use of narcotics for healing – not death.”
Dr. Stevens noted, “As the time-tested Hippocratic oath asserts, the role of a physician is to ‘use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never to injure or wrong them.’ The oath also asserts, ‘I will not give poison to anyone though asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a plan.’
“The reason physicians have taken this oath for centuries is to preserve their patients’ rights and the healing authority of the medical profession.”
“We don't need to empower physicians to administer lethal doses of narcotics. We need to empower physicians to administer truly pain-relieving doses of narcotics.”
“What message do we want to send about suicide to our young people, the disabled community, our aging parents and grandparents? Do we really want the government condoning and promoting suicide? Do we want to reinforce the fear that the infirm are no more than a burden on the healthy?”
“We need to send a message that even in our darkest hours, life is still worth living, that loved ones will come alongside to help, and that doctors will treat pain effectively and compassionately -- not with a lethal prescription.”
The court will hear the case in the fall of 2005, with a decision expected by spring 2006.
State records say that doctors have helped 171 people commit suicide since the Death with Dignity Act was introduced seven years ago.