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Death With Dignity

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Oregon Doctors Can Grant Patient Comfort After All


By James Donahue

Jan. 19, 2006


A split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked a move by former attorney-general John Ashcroft to scuttle an Oregon law that permits doctor-assisted suicide.


By a vote of 6-3 the court threw out an attempt by the Bush Administration to punish physicians who prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients by taking away the doctor’s right to write prescriptions.


Thus Oregon remains the only one of the 50 states to permit physician-assisted suicide. And it can be done then only under strict guidelines. But it is allowed. And that decision has launched a united sigh of relief for a lot of suffering terminally ill people all across the land.


Of the many evil concepts leveled by the Christian church on the masses, the demand that doctors may only maintain and preserve life at all costs is among the worst. Keeping suffering people alive for weeks, months and sometimes years on machines, and refusing to let them die, has turned a natural process of death into a time of terror for most humans.


The lucky die quickly and without warning, either by an accident or sudden seizure such as a heart attack or stroke.


The way we see it, the physician’s place was never to simply keep patients alive. Their oath talks about the relief of pain and suffering. And sometimes that involves easing the patient comfortably through the dying process.


This is the message Michigan’s Doctor Jack Kevorkian was attempting to get across to the American people when he blatantly participated in doctor-assisted suicides in open defiance of state laws. Instead of listening and recognizing a crying need among the sick and dying masses who came to Kevorkian, the State of Michigan convicted Kevorkian of murder.


Sadly, Kevorkian now is now facing a slow and ugly death in his cell in a Lapeer, Michigan prison. He reportedly suffers from hepatitis C which is terminal. The disease can be treated, but not cured.


That the court ruling supported the Oregon law has already prompted groups in some other states to begin circulating petitions to bring similar laws into existence in their own back yard is good news.


The call by many people, especially those in their twilight years, is that they wish the right to choose a death with dignity. And they would like the right to make their own choice as to when to die, if and when the pain of living becomes too hard to bear.


And this is where the concept of euthanasia creeps into the picture. One of the arguments the church-driven opponents of doctor-assisted suicides uses is fear. They suggest that that once we allow doctor-assisted suicides for the terminally ill, the next step could be the forced killing of all elderly people once they reach a point where they no longer contribute to society.


As an older citizen approaching my own twilight days, I have no fear of a well-run program for easing out the sick and elderly. The prospect of suffering for any length of time in a hospital setting, or possibly a nursing home at the expense of my family and the society in which I live, is not something any of us wish. And when the day arrives when I can no longer contribute to society, or maintain my own needs without someone’s help, I will know that it is time to go.


Dying in comfort is what we all want, yet it is what our church-driven society refuses to allow. Dying without pain is what we all wish, yet it is something that the religious do-gooders would like to take away from us through denial of good pain medicines. People are forced now to write living wills in fear that some medical practitioner somewhere will hook their dying bodies up to machines that keep them breathing and their hearts pumping as they suffer for weeks in agonizing pain.


We live in a very sick society. Three judges on that court, Chief Justice John Roberts and the other two conservatives, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, voted for punishing the Oregon doctors who follow their hearts. The logic behind their decisions lies buried in the court records but you can bet they were all influenced by the angelic-driven church.




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