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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