bush to seek ban on assisted suicide
from the AP wires:
get used to this sort of thing
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Bush administration asks Supreme Court to block assisted suicide
law in Oregon
Eds: ADDS 7 grafs at end with background, details
By GINA HOLLAND
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration asked the Supreme
Court on Tuesday to block the nation's only law allowing doctors to
help terminally ill patients die more quickly.
The appeal from Attorney General John Ashcroft had been expected
since May, when a lower court ruled the federal government could
not punish Oregon doctors who prescribed lethal doses of federally
Oregon voters approved the law and since 1998 more than 170
people have used it to end their lives. Most had cancer.
The Bush administration has argued that assisted suicide is not
a "legitimate medical purpose" and that doctors take an oath to
heal patients, not help them die.
While not as prominent as abortion, the issue is an important
one for conservative Christians, who helped Bush win a second term
last week. The government waited until Tuesday, the final day
possible, to file paperwork at the high court.
Oregon's law, known as the Death With Dignity Act, lets patients
with less than six months to live request a lethal dose of drugs
after two doctors confirm the diagnosis and determine the person's
mental competence to make the request.
Paul Clement, acting solicitor general, said in the appeal that
the law cannot stand because it conflicts with the federal
The Supreme Court probably will decide early next year whether
it will hear the case. The court has been hearing cases now with
eight members, because Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist is under
treatment for thyroid cancer.
The high court has dealt with right-to-die cases before.
Justices held in 1997 that while Americans have no constitutional
right to assisted suicide, states may decide the issue for
themselves without federal interference.
Oregon is the only state that has a right-to-die law, although
leaders in other states have considered laws of their own.
At issue for the court now would be the bounds of a federal law
declaring what drugs doctors may prescribe. Traditionally states,
not the federal government, regulate medical practices.
A federal judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco have ruled that federal officials do not have the power
to circumvent the Oregon law to punish health professionals in
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)