Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Whose Life Is It, Anyway?

In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that people have no constitutional right to die. I found this interesting, in that for the longest time it was my understanding that everybody died eventually.

I wondered - did this mean that all I needed to do was get a court injunction against dying, and I could live forever? If I did die, would I be committing an unconstitutional act? Would this be in fact High Treason, for which the penalty is Death?

My head started to hurt at this point, and I put it aside in my "Stupid Lawyer Tricks" basket (along with the time they legislated that pi = 3, made it illegal for frogs to croak after 11 PM, and other "that's why they're called the laws of physics, right?" items).

But I was forced to reexamine my assumptions when the Supreme Court this week upheld an Oregon law supporting physician-assisted suicide. I suppose to be accurate, I shouldn't say they upheld the law itself - they just found that Ashcroft couldn't go after physicians using existing federal drug law. (Huh. Ashcroft exceeding his bounds - imagine that...). Ironically enough, it was a "states rights" decision, which the Republicans have been lobbying for for years.

Scalia, always out there passing in the right lane, but usually with tight logical arguments, stated "if the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death." I guess next death penalty case that uses lethal injection will really back him up against a wall.

Bush's PR spokespuppet said "The president remains fully committed to building a culture of life, a culture of life that is built on valuing life at all stages." Unless you live in a country we don't like. Or break one of many death penalty laws. Or try to get married in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So...it's legal to kill others, including women and children. It's illegal to kill myself, regardless of quality of life and the inalienable right to the "pursuit of happiness". (Even more odd, since most religions believe that their "lives" get so much better after they're dead). And except in Oregon, it's illegal to ask anyone to help you end your life. (I assume this is to support the gun lobby's goal to sell more handguns for the use of blowing your brains out).

I clearly just don't get this Culture of Life thing.

(But hey - on my deathbed, I will achieve total consciousness, so I've got that going for me, which is nice...)


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