The Corner

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Assisted Suicide Silliness


In his noble efforts to fight doctor-assisted suicide, Wesley Smith once again trots out the argument that allowing Oregon to decide what constitutes a legitimate medical use of prescription drugs threatens “chaos.” I’ve debunked this claim before. Contrary to Smith’s suggestion, there is nothing unprecedented about predicating a federal offense on the violation of state law. Nor does it threaten chaos to allow states to adopt different rules for prescription drugs. Indeed, there are already instances where a doctor’s ability to prescribe medications udner federal law is a function of the law and policy in the state in which he practices. The only difference here is that doctors in Oregon will be prescribing drugs for a purpose that Smith doesn’t like. That’s a reasonable basis upon which to attack Oregon’s law. It is not a reasonable basis upon which to argue federalist principles do not apply.