Catholic World News Oct 14, 1997

WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) The US Supreme Court on Tuesday, without comment, rejected a lawsuit that challenges Oregon’s law permitting euthanasia, just months after the court upheld state laws banning the practice.

The ruling upholds a lower court ruling that threw out a lawsuit filed by a terminally-ill woman and two doctors, saying that the plaintiffs lacked the proper legal standing to sue. The doctors had contended that the woman, Janice Elsner, suffers from clinical depression which often makes her want to end her life and the Oregon law violates equal-protection rights by treating terminally ill people different from those who are not. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that there is not proof terminally-ill adults have depression severe enough to prevent them from making an informed decision.

The Supreme Court’s action allows the euthanasia law to take effect in Oregon for the time being. Oregon voters passed a ballot referendum in 1994, but the state Legislature has put the measure on this year’s ballot for reconsideration by the voters. The high court ruled on June 26 that Washington state and New York laws banning assisted suicide do not violate a supposed constitutional right to die, but the ruling did not set a national precedent, letting the debate over the practice continue in the states.