Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Column on Oregon's Assisted Suicide Law

[Please proof read before using!]

Oregon?s Right to Suicide Law

Tibor R. Machan

If the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution were heeded by our
and legislatures, there wouldn?t be public controversies about whether a
person has the right to commit suicide. This would be understood as one of
the many un-enumerated rights reserved to the people, just as saying a
prayer, worshiping Satan or playing bridge are. We have the right to do
all this and nobody has the just power or authority to interfere (beyond
certain measure that make sure this is really what we want to do).

Unfortunately the United States of America has become a country
just like
the country from which it gained its independence back in the late 1700s.
It is now managed by government and nearly everything people want to do
that doesn?t please some other people needs to gain public permission.
Thus we have the US Supreme Court hearing arguments about whether Oregon?s
law permitting doctors to dispense drugs that can be used to commit
suicide is constitutional. Of course it is. The big idea about the US
Constitution, as argued so astutely by Professor Randy E. Barnett in his
Restoring the Lost Constitution, the Presumption of Liberty (Princeton,
is that citizens are free to do everything apart from just a few matters
that are the purview of their governments. Like fight wars with foreign
nations or establishing the final court system. These are matters that
were empowered to do but everything else is--or should be--none of the

Now they are. So, the issue is not our liberty but who gets to
us?states, municipalities, counties, or the feds. That is a disaster in the
development of a country that the world still considers to be largely
free. And
our public officials still pretend that they represent a free people and
are promoting freedom abroad. But heaven help Iraq if it gets the kind of
legal system under which Americans live today. The only reason the
tyrannical implications of this system are not prominently displayed in
the lives of Americans is that the earlier understanding?itself merely
partial?of the meaning of the US Constitution had been that individuals
have rights that are indeed unalienable. The momentum that such an
created is still evident, from which we get our relatively free society?a
mostly free market, due process of law, civil liberties, freedom or
religion and
the press, and some semblance of respect and protection of the right to
property and drafting of contracts.

This momentum, however, is slowly petering out and the courts and
are doing nothing to abate that trend. No, instead they are hastening the
demise of those aspects of the country that had earned it the designation
of "a free society." (Of course, it
never was fully free?consider, among other things, slavery and
conscription as just two major contradictions to that ideal.)

Think about it for a moment: What business is it of the voters of
the federal government, the US Supreme Court or anyone else if someone in
the city of Eugene elects to obtain some help from a doctor in his or her
efforts to end his or her life, especially a life that is unbearable to
live for that person? Who are these meddlers anyway to burst in on such a
person and order him or her to desist?

May I remind you that we are talking about adult US citizens, not
children, ones who have in the course of making their decision to seek
help passed a bunch of tests to show they are of sound mind when they made
their decision? May I remind you that these adult human beings have an
unalienable right to their lives, which means they may not be intruded
as they decide whether to live or to die? (Having a right means one must
be left free
by all others, including the government, to decide about what one has a
right to!)

But no. These free citizens of a supposedly free country are
first to ask permission of Oregon?s voters. Then they need to fend off the
United States Federal Government that wants to override the voters?
decision. And then they need to submit all of this to the US Supreme
Court, which should long ago have stated very simply: ?Leave these folks
around, it is their life, so let them decide about it!?

Instead, we have the ugly spectacle of free adult men and women
around in circles, begging for permission from all kinds of strangers, to
what is clearly their unalienable right to do.

And you wonder why the rest of the world may be a bit confused as
to just
what the government of the United States of America is promoting around
the globe?

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