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a slip of the soul

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 18, 2006

If the term "legitimate medical purpose" has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death.

That's Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court decision upholding Oregon's Assisted Suicide Act. Scalia is arguing that what makes a legitimate medical purpose legitimate is that it contribute to the health of the patient. The contrary view has its own history of advocacy. Below is a moment in the trial of Adolf Eichmann, from Hannah Arendt's 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem. Robert Servatius was Eichmann's defense attorney (emphasis original):

The moment, one of the few great ones in the whole trial, occurred during the short oral plaidoyer of the defense, after which the court withdrew for four months to write its judgment. Servatius declared the accused innocent of charges bearing on his responsibility for "the collection of skeletons, sterilizations, killings by gas, and similar medical matters," whereupon Judge Halevi interrupted him: "Dr. Servatius, I assume you made a slip of the tongue when you said that killing by gas was a medical matter." To which Servatius replied: "It was indeed a medical matter, since it was prepared by physicians; it was a matter of killing, and killing too is a medical matter."

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 18, 2006 3:09 PM ET USA

    The proponents of doctor-assisted suicide are making the same sort of argument that has served the abortion-on-demand crowd so well--that the intentional killing of an unborn child has something to do with a woman’s “reproductive health.” Soon, I fear, our courts will sanction death as a health care option for anyone who wants it, and order Medicare to pay the tab. Imagine the possibilities: Too fat? Rx - Die! Too weak? Rx - Die! Mentally retarded? Rx - Die! Not good looking enough? Rx - Die!

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Jan. 18, 2006 12:52 PM ET USA

    This is why the confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court is so critical and why Kennedy and others who call themselves Catholic but really aren't, who are fighting to keep him off the court are also in league with the Devil.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Jan. 18, 2006 10:22 AM ET USA

    "and killing too is a medical matter." It certainly is -- for the coroner and forensic pathologist to determine cause so the police can investigate and charge.

  • Posted by: patriot6908 - Jan. 18, 2006 9:53 AM ET USA

    When the Devil is defeated on the field of battle, it ingratiates itself in the most tolerant-appearing, seemingly innocuous way, whereby those who are in opposition are made to seem rigidly moralistic. But once accepted as the voice of reasonableness, Satan can play havoc with our collective souls. What begins with a state's "assisted" suicide (sic) will end with nationally enforced euthanasia. Watch for the ghost of Herbert Marcuse to stand in smiling approval.

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