Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Preface

Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

Preface

Article excerpt

The featured article in this edition of Issues in Law & Medicine is by emeritus professor Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., M.D. He provides a review and evaluation of medical and public literature regarding the reported emotional and psychological effects of participation in physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia on the involved physicians. Articles in medical journals, legislative investigations and public press were obtained and reviewed to determine what has been reported regarding the effects on physicians who have been personally involved in PAS and euthanasia. He concludes that many doctors who have participated in euthanasia and/or PAS are adversely affected emotionally and psychologically by their experiences.

The Nota Bene section is a summary of the January, 2006, United States Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Oregon. In that decision the Court held that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not allow the Attorney General to prohibit doctors from prescribing federally regulated drugs for use in physician-assisted suicide under the Oregon law permitting prescriptions of lethal drug overdoses upon the request of terminally ill patients. The Attorney General's interpretive rule would have disrupted the prescribing of lethal drugs under Oregon's physician assisted suicide law. The Court reasoned that the CSA did not provide authority for the Attorney General to determine that the use of controlled substances for the purpose of killing patients was not a "legitimate medical purpose" under the statute.

The dissents of Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas provide a poignant rebuttal to the majority opinion and point out that the decision is directly contrary to the Supreme Court's own precedent in Gonzales v. Raich, decided a mere seven months before. In Raich, the Court invalidated the medical use of marijuana under California law. …

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