10/02/2005

The Business of Death

John Roberts' first month on the job at the Supreme Court is going to see at least one really tough case--the assisted suicide law passed in Oregon a few years back. So far this law is the only one of its kind in the US, but if it stands up to this legal challenge, it will likely spread to at least some other states.

This case poses thorny problems all around. To the small government conservative (seemingly a vanishing breed) who doesn't want the feds telling the states everything to do, it leans toward approving the state law. To the religious conservative (who wonder who speaks for them in Washington these days) it's just another example of the growing culture of death in America. To the constitutional conservative (those who've survived the Democratic litmus test to reach the court and get to vote) it's a balancing act between competing claims.

To me, the principle of the value of life outweighs the other considerations. God determines when life begins, and He determines when it ends. It is a rejection of His gift to end a life on our schedule and for our convenience. And that's true before birth or after a terminal diagnosis. I think a case can be made to increase medication in a terminal patient to give them relief from pain, but not to the point of intentionally overdosing the patient to end his life.

The one group for whom I have no sympathy whatsoever is the doctors who are violating at least their Hippocratic oath (if not the law) by killing their patients. That is not their purpose...not matter what high-sounding sentiments they spout to support doing exactly the opposite of what they are trained to do. I hope that Chief Justice Roberts will lead his new peers in rejecting both the business and the culture of death, and strike down Oregon's assisted suicide law.

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