Deadly medicine

Jacob Sullum has written an excellent column on the U.S. Justice Department’s recent attempt to overturn Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.

Sullum argues that assisted suicide is not medicine, but that the federal government has made it impossible for individuals to control how they die. Sullum writes:

The drug laws reinforce the idea that suicide is a medical issue because they grant physicians exclusive access to the substances that offer a relatively easy and painless way to die. If people could buy barbiturates over the counter, they would not have to beg doctors for a prescription, and the Death With Dignity Act never would have been proposed.

He is absolutely right, as usual. That said, Ashcroft should keep his nose out of it. A state law regarding assisted suicide is not a federal issue.