Frist Do No Harm

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:42 am

While listening to the coverage of the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the use by Oregon physicians of controlled substances to end the suffering of terminally ill patients, I was struck by a couple of questions.

1) Attorneys for the Bush Administration posited that the US government has the right to prosecute doctors for using these substances to end the lives of terminal patients (with their consent, having been judged by at least two physicians to have less than six months to live and also to be of sound mind) because the drugs in question are not being used for a “legitimate medical purpose”. If this is the case, how do they justify the use of similar substances in the process of ending the lives of prison inmates scheduled for execution?

Of course, said attorneys might well argue that such substances are not actually used to kill the condemned prisoner, merely to anesthetize him in preparation for the dispensation of the real fatal agents. Fair enough. But if that is the case, then:

2) Would the Bush Administration consider it within the confines for the law for a physician to use a narcotic to anesthetize a terminally ill patient in preparation for, say, smothering him with a pillow?

2 Responses to “Frist Do No Harm”

  1. Gavin Says:

    Lawyers argue a lot of weird stuff to make a living, yeah? Sort of like arguing that executing Clarence Ray Allen (kill someone and you get to be referred to by all three names…) was “cruel and unusual” punishment. If it was in Oregon it would have come down to a fist fight between the doctors trying to kill him and the lawyers trying to save him, all in the name of mercy. What a messed up planet we live on.

  2. Tony Lenzer Says:

    Interestingly, several years ago, the Supremes were looking at this issue, and declared that, while the “right to die” was not a Constitutionally-protected right, the states, in their wisdom, might choose to give their own citizens such a right. Also, they declared that giving heavy doses of drugs to relieve pain was not illegal, even if it resulted in death.

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