Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Nov. 12, 2001 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Life and liberty

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- IT doesn't speak well for this country that Attorney General John Ashcroft is in the doghouse for issuing a ruling last week instructing federal drug agents to target doctors who prescribe lethal drugs under Oregon's assisted-suicide law.

Critics say that Ashcroft is wrong to base his Oregon ruling on a unanimous May U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that federal drug laws make no exception for state law that allows medical use of marijuana. They say it's inconsistent for a Republican not to cede to local control. They say by warning Oregon doctors that they could lose their licenses to prescribe federally controlled drugs if they provide prescriptions for lethal drugs under state law, he has taken away Oregon's right to govern the practice of medicine.

Personally, I'd like to see Uncle Fed cede to the locals on medical marijuana. But on the law, Ashcroft is right. The Supreme Court says that the federal Controlled Substances Act trumps state law, and that's what matters.

Besides, if anyone was inconsistent, it's former Attorney General Janet Reno. She determined that federal law trumped local law on medical marijuana -- thus the feds could stop sick people from getting high -- but that Oregon could prescribe lethal doses to help sick people kill themselves. Assisted suicide didn't lead to "drug abuse," you see. She'd let sick people kill themselves because they might be in pain, but she wouldn't let them self-medicate with marijuana.

Her motto, apparently: better dead than high.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has shown himself to be a man with Reno-like compassion. He responded to the Ashcroft ruling by warning the public it could have a chilling effect on doctors who might fear prescribing pain control medication lest Ashcroft's agents arrest them.

That's a nasty bit of misinformation to spread -- one that needlessly may scare vulnerable people into believing that they can't get pain control that Ashcroft believes they should get. In fact, Ashcroft wrote to the Oregon Medical Association that his ruling should not "deter physicians from prescribing controlled substances to alleviate pain" even, he added, "when dosages needed to control pain may increase the risk of death."

While Wyden has been scaring sick people, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., has been willing to risk the wrath of voters for his beliefs. Smith knows that voters don't like Ashcroft overruling their law, but he told Ghe New York Times, "For me, it's an issue of principle on which I'm prepared to stake my political career."

He is risking his seat. Many voters seem to think that Ashcroft's move takes away a right to suicide. You see, they don't believe people should have to commit suicide without a doctor's help. Forget that some 86 Americans kill themselves every day without a doctor. They are so enamored with the possibility of exiting holding Marcus Welby's hand, they fail to notice that they would turn Marcus Welby into that ghoul, Jack Kevorkian. They think their doctor will try to talk them out of it. But in an era where cost-cutting is king, Oregon doctor William Petty worries that some sick people are coerced -- gently or not-so-gently -- to choose death: "You can envision that people will get inadequate pain medication, and be told that their pain is not controllable and will get worse." The answer: Death, the final pain control.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and physician, too well expressed why he disagreed with Ashcroft. "The timing of this (ruling) is really pretty astounding," he charged. "This attorney general is supposed to be figuring out who's responsible for the anthrax. We've got an overloaded medical community. An overloaded public health system. Docs who are trying to respond to this. And to introduce this divisive issue at this point in time is just, to me, unthinkable."

There are no known cases of anthrax in Oregon, but spokesman Jon Coney said that state health professionals have been "redoubling their efforts against possible outbreak." Coney denied that when Kitzhaber spoke of an "overloaded medical community," that the governor was suggesting that overworked doctors should not have to expend resources on terminal patients.

Coney said that because doctors are "overloaded," they shouldn't have to deal with a "divisive" issue. It's astonishing how advocates of assisted suicide can see the importance of so many side issues -- timing, divisiveness, local control -- while missing the biggest issue of all: that doctors are supposed to heal and relieve pain, not kill patients in the name, as some claim, of "compassion."

As Gene Tarne of the Virginia-based Americans for Integrity of Palliative Care, sees it, so-called "compassion in dying" means: "Let's put them out of not their misery, but out of society's misery. Why should we spend money and resources to care for these people?"

Re-read Kitzhaber as he talks about the system being "overloaded" in the same breath that he champions assisted suicide. You have to wonder whose burden he and his co-believers want to ease: their patients' or their own.


Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


Up


11/09/01Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate