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Bioethics Panel Defend Physician-Assisted Suicide 1 - 2

WHEN TERRI SCHIAVO passed away last June, the debate over death with dignity did not die with her. That discussion continued last October at a Bioethics, Law and Public Policy Society panel on Oregon v. Gonzalez. The case was brought before the Supreme Court just before the panel discussion. In January, the Court decided in favor of the State of Oregon, which permits physician-assisted suicide.

Physicians have been legally helping terminally ill patients die in Oregon since 1997. In 2001 the procedure came under fire from former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who considered it a violation of “legitimate medical practice.”

David Sontag GR’03 L’03, a panelist who submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on Oregon v. Gonzalez, saw the issue as primarily a case of federal infringement of states’ rights. “If the states want to say that physician-assisted suicide is legitimate, they can do so,” he said. “Medicine has always been regulated by the states, and we’re going to leave it that way.”

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