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Ask the Expert

Fall 2005

Barbara Coombs Lee, P.A., F.N.P., J.D., co-CEO, President of Compassion + Choices
Q. I just don't understand how the Oregon case affects me. My Bible-belt state doesn't have an assisted-dying law, and we probably never will. I feel bad for the Oregon patients and for the doctors who are being threatened, but what does it have to do with me?

A. Great question! There are definitely states where an assisted-dying law like Oregon's isn't on the horizon yet.

The issue in Gonzales v. Oregon is larger than assisted dying. It concerns a state's right to enact its own laws. In this case, the federal government interfered with rights that belong to states.

The rights of our state governments help enforce our individual right to privacy, protecting our personal freedoms. We don't want the government coming into our kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms and telling us how to live our lives -- and we don't want them at our deathbeds, either.

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The Oregon plaintiffs went to court to prevent bureaucrats from stepping into our homes and telling us how we can die. If states' rights are shelved regarding choice in dying, the precedent could allow interference in other aspects of our lives. Your state may not be considering assisted dying, but is probably interested in advance directives and improved pain and palliative care.

Decisions on these topics should be made by people in your state, not by far-off edicts in Washington. By supporting Oregon and the terminally ill patients at the Supreme Court, you're also supporting your own individual liberties -- and that's what the United States is about.

Barbara Coombs Lee, P.A., F.N.P., J.D., is co-CEO and President of Compassion & Choices.

Do you have questions for us? Our staff and volunteer experts are on hand to respond to your questions and concerns about choice in dying! Send your questions to us at expert@compassionandchoices.org.




  
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This article was provided by Compassion & Choices. It is a part of the publication Compassion & Choices Magazine.
 

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