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Brownback should butt out

Oregon voters &

8212; and the Supreme Court &

8212; have spoken

Oregon's landmark assisted suicide law continues to be a favorite target of social conservatives looking to make a name for themselves on the national scene. The latest salvo comes courtesy of U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

The Kansas Republican, who has presidential aspirations, has introduced legislation intended to bar doctors from prescribing federally controlled drugs for use in assisted suicide. Brownback clearly sees this political button as one that might help rally conservative voters, as the issue of abortion did for President Bush.

Oregon voters have made their wishes clear on this subject; they have twice approved the law allowing individuals to have a say in their final destiny. And Oregon's sovereignty on this state issue has received validation from the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is time for conservative politicians such as Brownback to set their leadership sights on more pressing problems. Faced with nationwide concerns of war, a growing national debt and homeland security challenges, it is difficult to justify focusing on an Oregon law that has been twice approved by voters and confirmed by the highest court in the land.

From the time the Oregon law took effect in January 1998 through the end of last year, 246 people used it to end their lives. On average, that's fewer than 31 people per year in a state with a population of 3.5 million.

The number of Americans killed in Iraq since the American invasion, as of Thursday, stood at 2,603.

If Brownback wants to save lives, his time would be better spent coming up with legislation to disentangle this country from foreign battlefields. If he wants to be president, he should focus on real issues and leave Oregon's laws alone.