Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Legislation takes so long

The view of the 'Final Exit Network' USA :
Finally, after more than four years under assault, the Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s physician assisted suicide law, rejecting Attorney General John Ashcroft’s use of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to conduct an assault on doctors who prescribe lethal doses to end the suffering of individuals who are terminally ill. The battle is far from over, however.

This ruling merely preserves the status quo, and only in one state. And the stringent Oregon law only applies only to individuals who have less than six months to live.

Since 1998 estimates are that slightly fewer than 250 individuals have found the peace and dignity they deserve under the Oregon law. Meanwhile, in the other 49 states, no such law exists. That’s why we formed Final Exit Network. Since Final Exit Network’s launch in September, 2004, 28 individuals in many states have exercised their Last Human Right © with the support of a Network Exit Guide. Right now, with the Network’s help, at least 45 individuals are actively setting the stage for their own peaceful, dignified deaths.

We support the valiant efforts of the Oregon Attorney General’s Office defending this important law. We also applaud the efforts of our colleagues in the death-with-dignity movement to change the laws.

However, we feel that legislative change will not come soon enough for the many people who need help NOW and in the interim! Even if physician-aid-in-dying laws are passed in other states, will the Justice Department assault them as well? It is telling that new Chief Justice John Roberts cast a dissenting vote in this 6 – 3 decision. If candidate Alito is appointed to replace Justice O’Connor, would he vote to uphold or overturn this crucial right? We can’t afford to wait to find out.

As Derek Humphry says, ‘Until laws protect the right of every adult to a peaceful, dignified death, Final Exit Network will be there to support those who need relief from their suffering today!’

Ted Goodwin
President, Final Exit Network


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