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SUPREME COURT ARGUMENT AVOIDS REAL ISSUE IN ASSISTED SUICIDE CASE HEARING


WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (EIRNS)--The two hours of oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 8, devoted to the issue of whether the laws of Washington State and New York State which ban physician-assisted suicide, are, or are not, unconstitutional, avoided the fundamental issue in this matter. At stake is whether the U.S.'s highest legal body is going to permit the official imposition of Nazi euthanasia, crimes for which Nazi doctors were condemned to death at the postwar Nuremberg Tribunal.

The Schiller Institute, a thinktank led by Helga Zepp LaRouche, had raised the Nuremberg standard in its amicus curiae brief, which was accepted by the court. The brief charges that a ruling permitting physician-assisted suicide, would make the perpetrators liable for prosecution by a new Nuremberg Tribunal, as physicians and the institutions for which they work would be consigning a category of people considered ``not worthy of life" to wrongful deaths.

The issue of the Nazi precedent for "physician-assisted suicide"--also known as murder, or euthanasia--was only raised tangentially in the argument before the court. Asked by Justice David Souter about the risks involved in legalizing the practice, William L. Williams, senior assistant attorney general of the state of Washington, noted the experience of the Netherlands (in recent years) and "Germany in the 1930s, of course." The Justices did not pursue this issue.

Also speaking strongly to the question of how legalizing assisted suicide would lead to wrongful deaths, was U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger. Dellinger said:

"States have long had laws that affirm the value of life by prohibiting anyone from promoting or assisting a suicide and I believe that no one disputes the constitutionality of those laws as a general matter. The actual question before the court is whether the constitution compels an exception to those laws here. In our view it does not... While the individual stories are heartrending,... it's important for this court to recognize that, if you were to affirm the judgments below [i.e., declare bans on assisted suicide unconstitutional], lethal medication could be proposed as a treatment, not just to those in severe pain, but to every competent terminally ill person in the country."

Later on, he made the point more broadly, indicating how dangerous the decision would be in the context of medical cost-cutting:

"The reality of existing medical practice in doctors' offices and hospitals cannot generally meet these expectations... The systemic dangers are dramatic. The least costly treatment for any illness is lethal medication. And the medical profession tells you in briefs... that we have a system in which we are struggling to try to provide proper treatment for pain and for depression. Someone who is not treated for pain is not in a position to make the kind of decision they need to be forced to make here."

The Solicitor General also attacked the idea of using "the cheap and easy expedient of lethal medication rather than the more expensive pain palliative."

The only other hint of the sweeping danger of the restoration of Nazi policy, and overturning of the highest principles of U.S. Constitutional law, that was given in the proceedings, was given outside. There, the anti-euthanasia group Not Dead Yet rallied with signs saying "Hitler would be proud."

The Schiller Institute will continue to campaign against the revival of Nazi euthanasia, as well as its de facto implementation through budget cuts.


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