February 23, 2024


The US Supreme Court has upheld Oregon’s controversial assisted suicide law and declared that the Bush administration exceeded its authority in trying to undo the statute. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that the Federal Attorney-General did not have the power to declare illegal "a medical standard for care and treatment of patients that is specifically authorized under state law".

The Oregon law became effective in 1997 and is supported by the electorate. The most recent statistics show that 326 patients had received medications to help them end their lives and 208 had actually killed themselves.

, Justice Antonin Scalia observed that "If the term ‘legitimate medical purpose’ has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death… Virtually every medical authority from Hippocrates to the current American Medical Association confirms that assisting suicide has seldom or never been viewed as a form of ‘prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease’".

The legitimacy of physician-assisted suicide "ultimately rests, not on ‘science’ or ‘medicine,’ but on a naked value judgment," he wrote.