In a landmark case, the Supreme Court has affirmed that physicians have the right to help terminal patients end their lives. The 1997 Oregon law was under attack from the administration, even though two other courts upheld it. Interestingly, though the AMA’s code of ethics says it’s unethical, practitioners of palliative medicine are grateful for this ruling because now dying patients who are in pain will no longer be denied the medication they need because doctors are afraid of prosecution.
So the upshot seems to be while the Federal government can pursue drug dealers, it holds no jurisdiction in the legitimate practice of medicine. This decision will allow doctors to offer some small peace and comfort to many who suffer in their last months, and to those who must watch their loved ones die. It was a difficult decision on the part of the Justices (the vote was 6 to 3 in favor); they are to be commended for their courage.