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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Right to Die versus "Mandatory Life"

"Hi, I'm Dr. Kevorkian. Want me to HELP YOU DIE!?"
Fledgling Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is about to break his cherry on a real humdinger out of Oregon - a question that opens a can of worms nearly as squirmy and historically fractious as that of Roe vs. Wade and the Death Penalty. That is, the RIGHT TO DIE.

In an article by the Science Daily, entitled High court hears assisted suicide case, the case is laid out thus:
"Oregon voters passed the Death With Dignity Act in 1994, allowing physicians to dispense medication to assist patients with terminal diseases to commit suicide."

"However, the Justice Department argues the Federal Controlled Substances Act gives the attorney general the power to prohibit the use of drugs in assisted suicide, regardless of state law."

Ah, so it does NOT address your every-day activity, such as hanging one's self, or jumping off a bridge. It's about DRUGS and what the fed says you cannot dispense legally. So, does this mean that you can, say, hold a pillow over your suffering loved-one's face if they are terminal and ask you nicely to kill them (so long as no drugs are involved)?

It would appear that this is all about a snag the Federal Government found in order to protect us from suicidal people! Hey, don't tell these folks but they are being SOUGHT OUT in Iraq by insurgent/terrorist cells (a "temp" position, as it were)...a good suicide bomber is getting hard to come by!

Here is my take on the specific issue - assisted suicide. YES, we have a right to die - especially if/when we are in pain and are terminally ill. I think it is worth considering, but if you are hoping for a quick decision don't hold your breath! This one will be deliberated for months. There was a time when physician-assisted suicide would have been impracticable - a little thing called the Hippocratic Oath, which was taken by all physicians, forbade it. Essentially, it is an ancient oath by doctors to do no harm to people and to help them. Specifically, there is this line: "I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel" that might have caused a problem. Alas, most medical institutions have modified or replaced Hippocates' wisdom, as mentioned by Wikipedia in this article on the subject.

(For those interested, the very next line in the ancient text read "...and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion." Hmmm...I'll save this for another time ;-)

I really do understand folks who are terminally ill and in pain wishing to choose the details and timing of their deaths - and other than knowing how to argue the case (I'm not a lwyer, but I play one on T.V. ;-), am all for it.

On COMMON suicide (fill in the reason), I have known three people (so far) who killed themselves. For those considering it, I would say this: If pulling a trigger on a gun (which happens to be in your mouth) is too scary for you, perhaps you might want to reconsider. You can always kill yourself TOMORROW!

I have NO sympathy for people who kill themselves (can you tell?). They shatter the rest of us who know and love them. I am curious to know how my readers feel about this as well.

Here is my idea (for non-terminally ill people who feel they have nothing to live for): Instead of offing yourself cuz your girlfriend left you, why not go out in a blaze of glory! Join the military, volunteer for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan with our forces battling insurgents - that way, your death will have noble purpose (if you are killed), OR you might just find a noble purpose TO LIVE FOR! Read, the greater good.

Sorry to have digressed - back to the Supreme Court.

Just think, Anna Nicole Smith will be getting HER DAY in the Supreme Court in her continuing effort to get her hands on nearly a GAZILLION DOLLARS from the man she (pregnant pause) "dearly loved in the twilight of his life." Can't wait for that one.

Have fun, Chief Justice!


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Retired Navy and Cold War/Gulf War Veteran. Senior Analyst for a large defense contractor, Bachelor of Science, Father, moonlighting Graphic Designer (T-shirts etc) and Blogger.

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