A Federal Judge has upheld Oregon's doctor-assisted suicide law and delivered in his decision a STINGING REBUKE
to John Ashcroft and the US Justice Department for attempting to thwart the will of Oregon voters, who TWICE passed referendums to allow it. I believe the judge was absolutely correct, but I still have mixed feelings about the law.
I rant regularly about the ham-handed federal government intruding into places where it has no business going. The Constitution was written to rein in the natural tendency of a central government to spread like poison ivy over the body politic and usurp both individual and state's rights. Despite that excellent plan, the federal government, with the help of some really squishy, penumbra-detecting judges, has mutated into a giant overseer of all that happens, right down to the molecular level, in this country. Such power concentrated in a faceless, unaccountable bureaucracy, obsessed with one-size-fits-all rules, is the stuff 1984
was made of. I really don't want to be "served" by public servants who turn me into a slave through regulation and micromanagement of my life. I am capable of making decisions all by my self, and I should have the right to do so.
I may have a vested interest in doctor-assisted suicide, too. I had prostate cancer. Although I appear to be "cured" six months after a radical prostatectomy, I have no written guarantee that I have an entirely clean bill of health. Statistics show that a person in my situation (successful operation, 0.0 PSA results three months later) has a 95% chance of surviving ten more years with no recurrence of the cancer. That also means that I have a 5% chance of NOT surviving ten more years. I am very well aware that I had only a 1% chance of developing prostate cancer IN THE FIRST PLACE before I was 50 years old, and I sure as hell defied THOSE odds. If the cancer comes back, it will be in the bone, and that's a difficult, painful way to die. If that ever happens, I may want to bail one of these days, quickly, quietly and painlessly, and I want that option. The federal government has no business and NO GODDAMNED RIGHT to take that away from me.
My beloved state of Georgia has the right to do that. If enough people RIGHT HERE WHERE I LIVE decide that doctor-assisted suicide is a terrible thing that will never be allowed in the Peach State, I will abide by that decision as long as I live in Georgia. If it's what the people want, I am not so arrogant or impolite as to shove MY trendy ideas of right and wrong down EVERYBODY'S throat the way the federal government does. Of course, in an ideal country where individual states make at least SOME of their own rules, I have the option of moving to Oregon if I don't like the climate here. That's the way it should be.
But I also worry about what doctor-assisted suicide may eventually morph into. How long will the law allow terminal cancer patients, mentally acute but physically ravaged, to determine THEIR fate before sons, daughters, in-laws and outlaws use it against dear old Mom, physically fine but mentally ravaged, to determine HER fate because she requires too much caretaking, or simply because she's pouring all that glorious inheritance money right down a nursing home drain? If you believe that scenario is improbable, just look at abortion.
Abortion should be legal but rare. In reality, it is a common form of birth control. Those who defend partial birth abortions tap dance all around the truth without ever admitting it, but we condone the murder of newborn babies in this country today as long as the murder is performed a few seconds before the baby actually is born. Now we've reached the point that my state has a "no questions asked" policy where a mother can drop her newborn off at a hospital and drive away, abandoning the child, without even giving her name. We have THAT policy because it beats digging the same baby dead out of a trash can. The value of a human life has been cheapened by abortion, and I'm not certain doctor-assisted suicide won't contribute its own lubricant to this slippery slope, until some day, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT decides whether you are fit to live or die. I do not want to go there.
I believe the judge made the right decision in telling the federal government to butt out of this one. I believe Oregan voters have the right to do what they did. But I would give them one piece of advice: be careful where this goes.