Skip to comments.Federally Enforcing Right to Life
Posted on 04/22/2002 7:28:24 AM PDT by humbletheFiend
Euthanasia is currently legal in Oregon because citizens there have approved physician-assisted suicide in two separate referendums. But is illegal under federal law for doctors to abuse the prescription power by distributing drugs for illegitimate, non-medical purposes.
United States Attorney General John Ashcroft has challenged the legality of the dispensation in Oregon of lethal drugs, saying it was not a legitimate medical practice. In particular, he issued a directive, by his authority as chief law enforcement officer of the United States, faithfully executing the Controlled Substances Act by preventing doctors from issuing lethal prescriptions.
Last week, the federal government's attempt to enforce this law against the manifestly non-medical purpose of killing people was rejected by federal court in Oregon. It is an occasion to recall both the fundamental evil of euthanasia, and the stake America has in ending this immoral and unethical practice in Oregon.
The Declaration of Independence states plainly that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator not by human choice with certain unalienable rights, foremost among which is the right to life. If the Declaration of Independence states our national creed, there can be no right to take any innocent human life, not even one's own, for this is to deny the most fundamental right of all.
The right to life is unalienable. That means we may not justly trade it away for some perceived improvement in our material condition, as we might sell the title deed to our house or car. If we kill ourselves or consent to allow another to do so, we both destroy and surrender our life. We act unjustly. We usurp the authority that belongs solely to the Creator, and deny the basis of our claim to human rights.
If human beings can decide whose life deserves protection and whose does not, the doctrine of God-given rights is utterly corrupted. Euthanasia treats the right to life as though it were dependent on human choice, rather than on the Creator's eternal will. That is why euthanasia is always the unjust taking of a human life and a breach of the fundamental principles of our public moral creed.
By our American creed, therefore, physician-assisted suicide such as is currently legal in Oregon is a violation of the very foundation of all our civil rights.
In judging the actions of the United States attorney general, we must keep this fact clearly in mind. There can be no question on which the attorney general of the republic has a more solemn obligation to act with principled energy than on the Declaration issue of the unalienable right of the innocent to life itself. The Constitution, and all federal law, has the single and unifying purpose of constituting a federal regime of ordered liberty by which the people, in their God-given equality, govern themselves in dignity and justice.
The Controlled Substances Act prohibits physician dispensation of drugs for medically illegitimate purposes. It is a federal law, which means that its execution in the lives of the citizens of the nation is the responsibility of the federal government. Attorney General Ashcroft bears the weight of that responsibility and has rightly made the judgment that physicians cannot dispense federally controlled substances in order to end the lives of patients.
Can the voters of the state of Oregon decide for the federal government that killing people is a medically acceptable purpose?
The attorney general and the state of Oregon cannot simply agree to disagree on the matter. The attorney general has a federal law and a solemn duty to enforce it. That means that he, on behalf of the sovereign federal power, must distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate medical uses of controlled substances.
In the current situation, a physician who is dispensing a lethal dose to his "patient" may say, "I am using this controlled substance in a way that conforms with the proper understanding of medical practice." Attorney General Ashcroft can point to common sense, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and disagree, saying, "Killing your patient is fundamentally opposed to the proper understanding of medical practice, because it is a profound injustice." The physician then points to the Oregon state euthanasia law, passed by the people of that state, and repeats that what he is doing is medically legitimate, according to the people of Oregon.
The question we face is whether the attorney general of the United States should form his understanding of the meaning of federal law, on a question bearing on the life or death of innocent citizens, by consulting the first principles of reason and American political justice, or by deferring to state referenda.
The legal question is clear enough. The interpretation of federal law cannot be dictated by state authorities. The interpretation of federal law is the business of the federal government, and the people who are competent to overrule federal authorities on such questions are the people of the whole nation, not of one state.
But euthanasia is no ordinary legal question. It goes to the heart of the nature and purpose of legitimate self-government. The State of Oregon is attempting to dictate to officers of the federal government an interpretation of federal law that violates the most basic natural and hence most essential civil right of all: the right to life. The state of Oregon is insisting, to speak plainly, on federal acceptance of the establishment of a new "peculiar institution."
But the original "peculiar institution," slavery, had already taken illegitimate root at the time of our national founding, and a painful prudence dictated that it be temporarily accepted lest the good of self-government itself should prove impossible. Oregon's new "peculiar institution" is a new cancer threatening the well being of the nation. Attorney General Ashcroft is right to refuse to yield the national conscience to this morbid revival of the right of states to repudiate the Declaration principle of human equality.
If you want to start killing people, hire a hit man. Should this practice be established, it will end up with Doctors killing anyone whom someone pays them to kill, then saying that the victim requested it, and qualified under the law. I prefer my hitmen to work for the Mob, not at a hospital.
Amendment X: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
A) You seem to hold doctors in very low esteem, equating them with paid hit men.
B) You refuse to allow a terminal patient the ability to manage his own demise.
I really wouldn't wish upon you the experience of a terminally ill relative begging for relief from pain and the indignities associated with not being allowed to die. (Yes, they revived him even with a written DNR order.)
The main opposition on the human level seems the fear that once established the mercy killing might be ill-used and eventually be used on the very people whos judgement is currently asked and who, in their youthful denial of death, want to "protect" themselves from being "killed".
This reminded me of a conversation I had a long time ago with my Black co-worker. The discussion was that Black people evolved longer in the natural environment and therefore are phisically stronger, with better bodies. He would not allow this conversation grow - it was racist, it might lead to conclusion that Blacks are different from Whites and therefore not equal. It did not matter to him that the idea had some merit and deserved an analysis - to him the idea was a taboo as it could be used to segraate. He was probably right as it was his experience.
Both ideas seem to meet the same challenge - one would rather let thousands of people suffer than risk the possibility of the mis-use. What it all means is that the current society is not yet ready for moral decision of such kind.
What I find remarkable is that Dr. Keyes does not make reference to any constitutional provision as a source of Federal power for the statute (Controlled Substances Act) and then doesn't even concern himself with the particular language of the statute.
Instead, he apparently thinks it enough that the U.S. Government is protecting the "unalienable" right to life that is described in the Declaration of Independence. That approach may work for him today on this issue, but he might find it troublesome if others were to view the U.S. Government's power to include the protection of the "unalienable" "pursuit of Happiness" that is also in the Declaration of Independence. This Declaration of Independence approach to the scope of Federal power is way beyond both FDR and Roe v. Wade.
So, I guess you would abolish the FDA and let each state make their own decisions on matters relating to medical drugs and interstate commerce.
You do owe him an explanation of the basis for your rights. If not from the Creator then is it from the will of the majority or what each differing individual says it is?
The "right to life" is retained by the people, not the State, since it is individuals who have lives. You would have a better claim that States not allowing physician assisted suicide are violating the Constitution.
Constitutionally, the federal government lacks a general police power. Because of this, the federal government doesn't even have jurisdiction over actions universally recognized as crimes such as murder or rape, and there certainly is no right to commit those things.
Furthermore, rights are not violated when an individual gives consent.
If you enter a person's house without their consent, the crime is trespassing.
If you have sex with another person without their consent, the crime is rape.
If you take another's property without their consent, the crime is theft.
If you kill another person without their consent, the crime is murder.
A person most certainly retains rights against trespass, theft, rape and murder, however once consent is given, the right is not violated.
Ironically, in the name of rights, the state is depriving a person of their right, the right to consent.
My take on the purpose of the article is to show that even the most esteemed conservatives can sound like liberals where states rights are concerned, so long as the central government is doing something they happen to like.
Seeing as though doctors have shown their willingness to rip unborn babies to bits, it's not a stretch to believe that there will be doctors who might shoot up somebody's grandma with poison.
Of course not. I'm a strict constructionist. You have ignored the earlier key question on what is the the basis for your rights.
I don't have my copy of The Constitution at hand right now, but I don't believe it "guarantees" any such right. The DoI enumerates it as one of the "unalienable" rights, but guarantees nothing. The Constitution is supposed to be a listing of the limits constraining government.
A local docotr was recently sent to prison for indiscriminately prescribing oxycontin to get patients hooked on it and continually needing his services.
Doctors are human, but I no more believe that doctors are waiting to rake in big bucks in assisted suicide than I believe that cops wait in excitment for an opportunity to 'off' a suspect at the most meager provocation. It happens, but it is the exception.
I'd much prefer to take a final dose of medication at my time of choosing than endure the pain and wasting away that chronic illnesses often bring. Let me and my family prepare and decide when the time is right.
For those who would murder for profit, the law doesn't stop that now for those truly motivated.
Point taken, however, abortionists are relatively rare, hardly the rule.
The arguement that doctors are waiting to rake in bucks offing gramma is, imo, more grasping at straws by opponents than anything else. What prevents doctors from doing that now, personal ethics or the law? I'd say that the law won't stop a determined murderer.
Dr. Keys is so fundamentally off base here it's not funny. This is a horrible argument that only advances big government. I see so much hypocrisy here it's mind boggling. All of you who whine and bitch and moan about the government "knowing what is best for you" on so many issues, but think that if you're terminally ill it should be able to force you to stay alive and suffer for several months to several years. Hypocrisy to its very core!
Many of you also do not approve of even medical marijuana. You would force terminally ill patients to use cheap quality artificial pain killers or dangerous natural ones like injective opiates. Whatever happened to the concept of dying with dignity? Have none of you that support Keys's argument here seen a loved one or pet waste away because someone kept them alive longer than their body naturally could sustain? I have, and I swore that I would never allow that again.
So ultimately, f*$% off Ashcroft and your big government loving administration. Let the people have control over their bodies and their lives. Oh wait, that would imply we should actually be a free society in deed and not just name and wishful thinking alone. I think the ramifications of a society that is actually free in deed and not words alone are too great for many of you to handle.
You asked Doctor Stochastic about the basis for rights. Since the Creator gave us free will each individual has the right to choose how long to continue his life and will be answerable to the Creator but not to some Government official.
I regard doctors as I do all people, corrupt and tending towards evil. If evil is profitable, then men will arise to do it. The way to keep this manageable is to ensure that the temptation does not arise. This is the problem in the Catholic church placing sexually active homosexuals in the clergy, and allowing them to associate with young men. The results were inevitable. I do not regard doctors as being of a higher moral caliber than men of the cloth. If we make it legal for doctors to kill essentially anyone they want, and there are people who will profit from these deaths, then killing people for profit will become an active branch of 'medicine'.
Legalized abortion was also supposed to relieve the desparate victims of rape, incest, botched alley abortionists, etc. To make the human experience less tragic.
Has it done so? 30 years later we have abortion at whim, for any reason at any stage of gestation, up to and including the moment of birth. We have the barbaric practice of Partial birth abortion, the main purpose of which is not to convenience the woman, but to provide intact fetal organs and tissues for the rapacious "medical" research community.
Abortion has become a billion dollar industry that operates hand in glove with the "sex educators" who encourage sex because they are dependent upon the known failure rate of contraceptives to provide new clients and fresh parts for their abortion mills.
Euthanasia will be no different, moved by horror stories of affliction and despair, the sheeple will buy into these "mercy" laws for legalized killing, and another death industry will be spawned. Only the ages of the victims will have changed.
What will be more entertaining is when the right to kill people is extended from doctors to your local Democrat precinct committeeman. All he needs to do his come over, decide that as a libertarian you are not capable of living a 'meaningful existence', and sign your death certificate. Then some local cop will come out and 'execute' the death certificate.
Please tell me, was that an attempt at humor or an attempt to refute what I said. Either way it fails miserably
What prevents it now is cost/benefit analysis. The current cost of murdering patients for money is high, and the benefit is relatively low, since we do not have an open market in killing.
By reducing the cost of murder, and assisting in the creation of a market for murder, we will ensure that the intersection of the demand and supply curves will result in a market-clearing price and supply of murder at a far higher level.
It is a serious prediction. No power invested in private hands will long remain out of the hands of the state. The state is controlled by, and acts in the benefit of, political parties. Whether they put this power in the hands of the precinct worker, or in some bureaucrat, is immaterial.
Assisted suicide allows a dying person the ability to manage their death.
Two different topics, don't try to confuse the issue.
It's clear that many of the groups behind euthanasia legalization simply want to establish a legal system of killing the aged, the dying, the disabled, for the purpose of relieving society of the financial burdens of caring for these folks. It is a similar motivation with the abortion pushers. The racist eugenics agenda of Planned Parenthood is well known, and I can't count how many times pro-aborts have justified abortion by claiming material benefits to society. It's vile.
You are stretching the facts. Nobody is advocating what you say they are," If we make it legal for doctors to kill essentially anyone they want..." but allowing those who choose to to assistthose who are competent to make their own choices.
Murder is still murder and it happens today with today's laws.
I wonder if it is your fears that govern your decisions or your desires to make decisions for other people.
As things stand it is an unconstitutional Government function. Also I believe a private firm like UL (which tests electrical devices) would be preferable.
That isn't to say that it's necessarily a good or bad thing. It's just how it is.
No, it's a bad bad thing when rights are defined as you have. Our constitution was designed to prevent laws from being enforced which abridge rights as defined therein.
"The Declaration of Independence states plainly that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator
not by human choice with certain unalienable rights, foremost among which is the right to life.
Exacty who our 'creator' is, - has been a matter of some dispute, and in any case does not exclude human free will as the basis for our rights. -- 1st claim refuted.
If the Declaration of Independence states our national creed, there can be no right to take any innocent human life,
not even one's own, for this is to deny the most fundamental right of all.
The right to end your own suffering can hardy be claimed to be an 'innocent' taking of life. -- The law in question has plenty of safeguards to insure it is an entirely voluntary decision by an aware adult that has an inalienable right to make it. - 2nd refuted.
The right to life is unalienable. That means we may not justly trade it away for some perceived improvement in our material condition, as we might sell the title deed to our house or car. If we kill ourselves or consent to allow another to do so, we both destroy and surrender our life.
We act unjustly.
- An unjust act against whom? There is no victim. --- An informed personal choice is made to end our own terminal illness, not to 'improve our material condition'. --- Death is hardly an improvement of the human condition. ---- 3rd claim refuted.
We usurp the authority that belongs solely to the Creator, and deny the basis of our claim to human rights.
Keyes presumes to know our creators basis for authority. - 5th false claim. -- And he repeats his 1st claim, that he knows the basis of our rights. He does not. His opinion is nothing more than just that.
Keyes should stick to defending his political views of the constitution. -- He allows his religious views to lead him into defending the very type of authoritarian state he otherwise detests.
Do persons have an inalienable right to hire another person (a doctor, or a non-doctor) to kill them? If Right is the correlative of duty and wherever one has a right due to him, some other must owe him a duty, then who is it who owes a duty to that person, and what is the duty?
If persons have an inalienable right to hire a contract killer for such purposes, is the contract assignable?
If the right is inalienable, do minors have the right to enter into such contracts?
If the true scope of Federal power is to be found in the Declaration of Independence rather than in the Constitution (which is what I understand Dr. Keyes to be saying), then there is no need to "cite the particular Article and Section of the United States Constitution which gives the federal government the power to force people to live." But even if we confine ourselves to the provisions of the Declaration of Independence for a description of legitimate Federal powers and just disregard the Constitution, doesn't the issue of assisted suicide involve at the very least a conflict between the "unalienable" right to Life versus the "unalienable" rights to "Liberty" and the "pursuit of Happiness," and isn't there some room for debate as to which of these "unalienable" rights deserve priority?
The whole notion of looking to the Declaration of Independence as a descriptive tool in defining the boundaries of the U.S. Government's power in our federal system would have come as a real shock to our Founding Fathers. Even Marshall would have blushed at this approach.
Thankfully, however, the Fifth Amendment prohibits everyone, including the states, from taking life, liberty, and property without due process of law.
The purpose of government, as the Declaration states and as our Founders believed, is to protect these rights--which rights must be considered unalienable to all persons. Alan Keyes argues that you cannot give away unalienable rights, even if you dont want them. (see Keyes speech at Missouri Right To Life)
Once the right to life fails to be protected by law, even in the circumstance of assisted suicide, eventually no one will be safe.
I believe you're right.