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Thursday, May 27, 2004
      ( 10:04 AM )
Ashcroft Gets the Smackdown from Oregon

Victory! The Ninth Circuit Court finally ruled yesterday in the case about allowing Oregon's Death With Dignity act. Oregon voters have voted TWICE for Death With Dignity and John Ashcroft keeps appealing it. But he lost yesterday. Again. This is a straight-down-the-line state's rights issue.

The 2-1 ruling by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft had exceeded his authority when he declared in late 2001 that assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical practice.

"The attorney general's unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide and far exceeds the scope of his authority under federal law," wrote Judge Richard Tallman, a former federal prosecutor.

"To be perfectly clear, we take no position on the merits or morality of physician-assisted suicide," Tallman wrote for the majority. "This case is simply about who gets to decide."


It "clearly sends the message to . . . Ashcroft: Keep your hands off Oregon and Oregonians," said George Eighmey, executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon. His group advised 33 of the 42 patients who died by assisted suicide last year.

Kevin Neely, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Justice, said, "Today's decision reinforces that states do, in fact, have the exclusive authority to establish their medical practices and, absent any intervention by Congress, the federal government should not and cannot tell states how to practice medicine."

Oregon stands as the only state in the union that allows people the choice of how they will die if they are lingering in a painful conclusion to their life. This is a decision that must be left to the people of this state. We have chosen it, not once, but twice. Death with Dignity not only works, but it is a true gift to many people. And no, we don't have people flocking to kill themselves here in Oregon (unlike the people flocking to get married!) - this is about your freedom to make a person choice to die with dignity and grace and in the way you choose.

And don't be fooled. John Ashcroft isn't just fighting Oregon out of some sense of moral highground over the practice of medicine. Who do you think gets all that money spent on sustaining lives that don't want it - the Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical corporations.

Hooray for Oregon. Victory over Ashcroft and a Victory for our rights as individuals.

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