Tuesday's 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court preventing the federal government from punishing doctors who prescribe federally controlled substances -- narcotics -- for suicide is being spun by euthanasia advocates as a big boost for their cause.
Never mind that the ruling was very narrow and did not, as proponents claim, "uphold" Oregon's law. And never mind that Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion indicated that the federal government probably could prevent narcotics from being prescribed by doctors to intentionally cause death -- just not in the way chosen by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. What mattered most to proponents was the political spin they were able to place on the decision.
But spin can only take you so far. It is the real world in which assisted suicide would be carried out -- not threats from the federal government -- that has kept the practice from being legalized beyond Oregon.
Consider the following: We are told by backers that assisted suicide would be restricted to cases of unbearable suffering. Yet legislation in California to legalize assisted suicide -- AB651 by Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka -- contains no such requirement. Nor does the law in Oregon, where doctors who assist suicides report that most patients do not seek death because of pain, but because they fear being a burden, can no longer engage in enjoyable activities or fear losing dignity.
Read the entire article on the San Francisco Chronicle website (new window will open).