A License To Kill?

A License To Kill?
Posted by FoM on November 15, 2001 at 07:03:47 PT
By Suzanne Fields
Source: Washington Times
A patient falls ill in one of Voltaire's philosophical tales and the author observes: "Despite the attention and ministrations of the leading medical doctors of Europe, he survived."   This is the sardonic wit we should apply to a debate today: Should a physician who has sworn to do no harm be allowed, legally, to help a patient kill himself with prescribed lethal doses of barbiturates?
This is not about Dr. Kevorkian, the infamous Dr. Death, now serving a prison term for murder. The courts finally would not accept his oxymoronic euphemism of "assisted suicide." (You can wound the language as well as the person.) Physicians in Oregon, however, can become doctors of death under state law, having received the imprimatur of the people in a statewide referendum. But such doctors still need the help of the feds. Federal law trumps state law in the administration of drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, which governs powerful prescription drugs like morphine that alleviate pain, but which can also kill. Loophole-lovers, aware of the problem, sought a federal accomplice for assisted suicide in Oregon and found one in Janet Reno, the attorney general in the Clinton administration. She gave them a pass, promising not to prosecute. John Ashcroft, who replaced her, has reversed that, and a federal judge has stayed his decision, at least temporarily.   There are two issues here. One is philosophical in its consideration of life-and-death issues. The other is legalistic and constitutional, whether a state's rights in this matter should supersede federal authority. Like most of our most complex decisions, liberal and conservative attitudes conflict and overlap. Black-and-white reasoning is simplistic and inadequate. There are shades of gray in both arguments. There's no rainbow here.   Certain professors of medicine argue that, when a patient is dying in great pain and chooses to end both pain and life, a doctor in good conscience should be able to relieve the agony and abide by the patient's wishes. But, even if the doctor doesn't intend for a patient to die, he can accidentally kill if he administers dosages high enough to alleviate excruciating pain. Hence, Mr. Ashcroft's policy could make doctors fear prosecution, curtailing their ability even to prescribe the necessary dosages for pain medication. Consider what you would want for your mother or father, your child or your husband or wife, or even yourself, when pain drains human dignity in those last hours of life.   On the other hand, no one should be licensed to kill. This is the argument of a coalition of groups that have contended vigorously against such laws in state legislatures, and includes many doctors and nurses, as well as hospice workers, disability-rights activists, pro-life supporters and various defenders of the poor. They argue that the sanctity of life is paramount and worry about the potential for abuse of patients who are most vulnerable to pressures of family, the cost of care, psychological guilt, and the work of "do-gooders" who consider themselves to be saviors or saints in reducing suffering.   The strongest argument against the Ashcroft decision, it seems to me, is that doctors would be inhibited from prescribing necessary doses of morphine to eliminate pain because they fear prosecution. The attorney general has specifically said  and assured the Oregon Medical Association  that excessive scrutiny of doctors' prescriptions for morphine use would not be initiated by the federal government.    In states that have outlawed assisted suicide  such as Michigan, Louisiana and Rhode Island  the evidence shows that doctors have actually increased their use of morphine in alleviating pain.   There's a persuasive argument for states' rights, since Oregon voters twice affirmed by wide margins their decision to approve of assisted suicide. However, the attorney general based his decision on an 8-0 U.S. Supreme Court decision (United States vs. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative) that said California could legalize medical marijuana, but that such legalization could not prevent the federal government from enforcing federal law which disallows the use of marijuana. The court convincingly backs up Mr. Ashcroft's decision.    The spectre of death hovers close over us as we mourn those who died in the September 11 attacks and the Nov. 12 airliner crash in New York City. Fear of death assumes a new urgency in the age of terrorism. The values that sanctify life seem all the more precious. Ultimately, assisted suicide is not so much a slippery slope as the complete contradiction of the ancient physicians' oath to preserve life  and to ensure that death be not proud.Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times.Source: Washington Times (DC)Author: Suzanne FieldsPublished: November 15, 2001Copyright: 2001 News World Communications, Inc.Contact: letters washingtontimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Medical Marijuana Information Links and Liberty - Washington Times's Moral Stand Out of Line
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Comment #5 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on November 15, 2001 at 14:42:34 PT
The Church of Rome
Once upon a time, there was a big city-State in Italy called Rome. Rome was ruled by Emporors and was thus considered "an empire".A big issue with Rome became the devloping problem of followers of a man named Jesus who had been crucified for encouraging dissent from, and disagreement with the Roman way: specifically that citizens be forced to kneel to the Emporor and Empire Nobility.The execution of Jesus did not quell the movement and seems to have spurred it on. Constantine, an emporor had the idea that the best way to address the "problem" was to accept it: Christianity became the "official religion of Rome. Hence the Roman catholic Chirch: catholic is latin for "universal". The Cathiolic Church was to be THE religion.Over the years The Catholic Church has essentially been the State, snooping into people's lives, waging wars of conquest and ideology.Here in modern times we have the allegation that Church and State are to be kept separate, for a variety of constitutionaly-based reasons. This separation is always the target of modern "right-wing" religious conservatives.It was the Catholic Church that began the cruel practice of forcing suffering and dying people to live as long as possible, because somehow that's what they felt "jeeeeesus" wants.And this is the motive still behind all the issues of modern times wherein people are thwarted from their own autonomy by those who are here to "save us from ourselves in the name of jeeesus": abortion, birth-control, self-defense as defined by handgun ownership,and the right to die are all issues that affect people's lives and people MUST be free to make the decisions that are right for them.But down through history we see the Church doing everything to rob the people of their freedoms. Here in the 21st Century we have John Ashcroft, religious supoer-zealot trampling the constituiton and the people it is supposed to protect, and forcing HIS views of how people should act upon them, by force.It is most cruel to force some people, wracked with pain and disease, with a horrendous quality of life, to stay alive simply because YOU think they should. That's all any complaint about people having the right to choose death on their terms is.The moron who penned this article eliminates this issue of personal autonomy and writes as if Doctors who prescribe medication sufficeint to help someone die is "killing". This is done to stigmatize those who would attempt to champion the cause. I must be a killer, too.Well, that's also stupid. Most of the people in these positions who spend their time trying to get you and me to do what they want, to beleive what they belive are almost always super-right-wingers, and not the sharpest tools in the shed, if ya know what I mean. (How they get elected is beyond me)So, Ashcroft is out to eliminate our rights to choose what we need for ourselves and to make our lives better and more meaningful. We have the Federal Government pushing the Church's agenda.And on that note, the Church of Rome has come close to their original goal of World Domination.FREEDOM ENDURES
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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on November 15, 2001 at 12:34:43 PT
By the way, read that oath
The Hippocrtic oath begins:"First, do no harm."That is not the same as promising "First, keep the poor pain-wracked dying person breathing for as long as scientifically possible."
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on November 15, 2001 at 12:32:31 PT
Death is a natural and normal event in life
The values that sanctify life seem all the more precious. Ultimately, assisted suicide is not so much a slippery slope as the complete contradiction of the ancient physicians' oath to preserve life  and to ensure that death be not proud.Death is a natural and normal part of life. No ancient oath to a snake god can change that.Everyone has to die. There is no way that a doctor's use of authority can prevent that.It's horrific to me that these moral authoritarians want to strip ordinary humans of every last scrap of personal autonomy, so that we don't even have the right to decide to accept the death THAT IS IN FACT INEVITABLE FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US.Death -- be proud, because there is no life without death.The problem with a terrorist attack is that this event casts death into an unnatural place, because these were not natural inevitable deaths.But death itself is a natural part of life, and this is what the Taliban and Mullah Ashcroft refuse to acknowledge.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 15, 2001 at 08:49:04 PT
I don't understand why they can't get it straight either. It's about buyer's clubs not medical marijuana as I see it. Thanks!
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Comment #1 posted by Normllaw on November 15, 2001 at 08:29:07 PT:
DOJ misinterprets OCBC ruling
Although Ashcroft and Hutchison are fond of misinterpreting the USSC's recent decision regarding marijuana and medical necessity, in truth the Court ruled that those who manufacture and distribute marijuana to patients may not raise the common law defense of medical necessity to avoid federal prosecution. 
That's it.
The rest is "dicta" and not law. This reporter and hundreds of others continue to falsely report the government's party line on this decision. It's like that "whisper down the lane" game, where one word or phrase is repeated to many others, and by the time it gets to the end of the line, the word or phrase's meaning has completely metamorphosed into something unrecognizable...
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