U.S. Bishops File Brief in Assisted Suicide Case

Supreme Court to Rule on Oregon Lawsuit

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops asked the Supreme Court to uphold the attorney general’s interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act when deciding an assisted suicide case next term.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, the bishops, in conjunction with other religious organizations, requested that the court consider the conclusions of the office of the attorney general that found that assisted suicide is not a legitimate medical practice under the Controlled Substances Act.

This interpretation was struck down by a Ninth Circuit court decision in the case Gonzales v. State of Oregon, now before the Supreme Court.

The attorney general concluded that «there is a difference between assisting suicide and managing pain, and that the former is not a legitimate medical purpose within the meaning of the Controlled Substances Act,» the brief said.

«Enforcing the distinction leads to improvements in patient care. Blurring the distinction has been harmful to patients and jeopardized their care,» it stated.

The brief noted that medicine by its very definition aims to prevent illness, to heal, and to alleviate pain. «Taking a human life accomplishes none of these objectives.
To say that it does creates an inherent contradiction, like saying that the legitimate practice of law includes helping clients break the law.»

Other organizations signing the brief are: the California Catholic Conference, Oregon Catholic Conference, Washington State Catholic Conference, Catholic Health Association of the United States, and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

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