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Oregon Editors Say

Feds still want to control us

The Supreme Court should uphold Oregon voters' decision about death

The (Coos Bay) World

After clearly affirming their wishes on the matter, the people of Oregon are facing yet another federal challenge to legislation allowing individuals to make their own decisions about death.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced it will hear a challenge to the state's assisted suicide law. The justices will review a lower court's ruling that the U.S. government can't stop doctors from prescribing lethal overdoses for terminally ill patients. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft fired off an appeal to the highest court the day his resignation was announced, and his successor, Alberto Gonzales, immediately picked up the gauntlet.

The Oregon law, twice approved by voters, allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live ' and two doctors must confirm that diagnosis ' to request a lethal drug dose, but only after their mental competency has been determined by two doctors. Careful tracking by state health officials indicates 171 Oregonians have used the law to end their lives in the seven years since it went into effect.

Many legal scholars believe the reason the assisted suicide law passed in Oregon and not in other states where it has been considered is because this state's law leaves the matter up to the patient. The doctor can prescribe the drugs, but there is no question of who is in control because the patient must administer them.

But control is the issue when it comes to the feds. This country historically has held that states regulate their own medical practices and practitioners, but the Bush administration has not wavered in its determination to usurp this right from Oregonians.

— Giving only lip service to the mandate of states' rights, the president, Ashcroft and now Gonzales, have persisted in attempting to wedge the federal government into what is clearly a state issue.

Twice, Oregonians carefully considered the many legal and moral ramifications of an assisted suicide law and then approved it.

Twice, the Bush administration has attempted to wrest control of this right from the people.

Twice, courts have reaffirmed the Oregon law and told the federal government it has no place in the equation.

The Supreme Court should make sure the third time is the charm by upholding the will of the people of the state of Oregon in this matter ' once and for all.