Hillary and Obama on Assisted Suicide and Medical Marijuana
Oregon has a law allowing assisted suicides. Yesterday, the Register-Guard conducted an interview with Hillary and asked her views on the topic;
Q: What’s your attitude toward Oregon’s assisted suicide law?
A: I believe it’s within the province of the states to make that decision. I commend Oregon on this count, as well, because whether I agree with it or not or think it’s a good idea or not, the fact that Oregon is breaking new ground and providing valuable information as to what does and doesn’t work when it comes to end-of-life questions, I think, is very beneficial.
Q: Would you have voted for it if you were a resident of the state?
A: I don’t know the answer to that. I have a great deal of sympathy for people who are in difficult end-of-life situations. I’ve gone to friends who have been in great pain and suffering at the end of their lives. I’ve never been personally confronted with it but I know it’s a terribly difficult decision that should never be forced upon anyone. So with appropriate safeguards and informed decision-making, I think it’s an appropriate right to have.
In March, the Medford Mail-Tribune asked Obama his views: (More...)
Q: A couple of other issues of interest to Oregonians involve initiatives passed by the voters that have come into conflict with the federal government: physician-assisted suicide and medical marijuana. Do you support those two concepts?
A: I am in favor of palliative medicine in circumstances where someone is terminally ill. ... I'm mindful of the legitimate interests of states to prevent a slide from palliative treatments into euthanasia. On the other hand, I think that the people of Oregon did a service for the country in recognizing that as the population gets older we've got to think about issues of end-of-life care. ...
Obama gave yet another version of his position on medical marijuana:
As for medical marijuana ... I'm not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed, but I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate. ... I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.
In November, he said:
When a voter asked Obama if he was for the legalization of medical marijuana, Obama said that he wasn't in favor of legalization without scientific evidence and tight controls. Citing his mother who died from cancer young, Obama compared marijuana to morphine saying there was little difference between the two.
"My attitude is if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to because there's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain,” Obama said. “But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed.”
But he added that he was concerned that the reasons for the use of marijuana would grow and create a "slippery slope."
The question, I think, is what he would do as President to change the federal marijuana laws to allow medical use. I suspect he'd order a study that would last throughout his presidential term, resulting in no action.
Here's what he told another newspaper:
When it comes to medical marijuana, I have more of a practical view than anything else. My attitude is that if it's an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate.
I would not punish doctors if it's prescribed in a way that is appropriate. That may require some changes in federal law. I will tell you that...the likelihood of that being real high on my list is not likely. What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism. We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with." (my emphasis)
Update: A suggestion from the comments below, which I will follow in the future:
Those involved in the movement to advocate for end-of-life choice prefer to use value neutral terms such as "aid in dying", "patient directed dying" or "physician aid in dying". It's helpful if people recognize that a mentally competent, terminally ill patient who self-administers medication to bring about a peaceful death is not committing "suicide", nor does a physician who prescribes such medications engage in "assisted suicide". Speaking accurately about this important choice is critical for continued growing acceptance.
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