Dept of Justice Appeals Oregon Assisted Suicide Ruling

PORTLAND, July 20, 2004 ( - The Department of Justice has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to re-evaluate its 2-1 May ruling upholding Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. The attorney general’s office has requested a new ruling or for a retrial by a full panel of 11 judges.

Attorney general John Ashcroft had challenged Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law, arguing that the prescribing of lethal medications by doctors was in contravention of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Two of three state judges disagreed, arguing that the regulation of medical practice is outside the jurisdiction of the federal government.  “Under specified conditions, the (Controlled Substances Act) allows registered physicians to prescribe controlled substances for legitimate medical purposes in the usual course of professional practice,” the attorney general’s office said, according to a Statesman Journal report. “The attorney general recently issued an interpretive rule clarifying that assisting suicide is not a legitimate medical purpose under the CSA.”“I am pleased that (Ashcroft) has decided to pursue this case,” executive director of Oregon Right to Life Gayle Atteberry told the Statesman. “The case involves - rightly involves - whether a state can usurp a preexisting rule by the federal courts as to how federally controlled drugs can be used.”  Read related coverage:  Kerry “Personally Opposed” to Assisted Suicide But Will Not Oppose Oregon Euthanasia Law

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