Wednesday, October 05, 2005

States rights ... and individual choice

We're seeing it again: a disconnect between the conservative manifesto of "state's rights" and this administration's actions.

I thought conservatism was about small, financially responsible government that left matters of conscience to individuals and their families... But once again, we see this administration is NOT conservative: it is theocratic and hell-bent (irony intended!) on dictating your morals...
More than 8 years ago Oregon adopted an assisted suicide law that applied to terminally ill patients. Essentially, if a terminally ill patient was diagnosed with less than 6 months to live he/she could request a lethal prescription from their doctor that they could use (at the time of the patients choosing) to end their life. This allows terminally ill individuals to decide when 'enough was enough' and end their suffering.
From the statistics I've read, most people requesting these prescriptions had diseases like bone cancer, lung cancer, etc: degenerative conditions that usually result in an extended and painful end-of-life experience. Again, from the statistics I've read, the majority of people requesting these prescriptions are middle class Americans who have health insurance. Although many request and fill these prescriptions - many never use them. But, as the guy with bone cancer up in Oregon said, "It's somewhat comforting to know you have that option."
John Ashcroft has been trying to get the federal government to overturn the Oregon voter-approved law (Janet Reno wouldn't even have the case tried). In 2004 a federal appeals court ordered the administration not to interfere with the Oregon law... But now the Bush administration is about to have it's day in court: The supreme court.
The issue for me is two-fold: the rights of local voters (citizens of Oregon in this case) to decide what's best for themselves -- medical practice is state-regulated -- and the rights of the individual to decide what to do with their lives.
Once again, this administration demonstrates that it is focused on dictating personal choices in the name of 'morality' rather than securing the rights of an individual to make personal choices that are obviously best made by family members with support from their doctor.
How can we get the 'this' federal government out of our personal decision making?

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