01-01-2007 - Traces, n. 1

it’s already law

by Marco Bardazzi

Only one state in the USA, Oregon, has legalized “assisted death,” in 1994, but there are many where the local assemblies try to pass similar provisions. In the years of the Bush administration, the Federal Government attacked the Oregon legislation head on, taking the case to the Supreme Court. But in 2005, the judges pronounced 6-3 against the Government in the case of Gonzales vs. Oregon (from the name of the Minister of Justice Alberto Gonzales), leaving the legislation in force.
In the USA, the debate on the right to die is almost as delicate as that around on the pro life-pro choice dispute, over the question of abortion. America questioned itself profoundly in early 2005 over the euthanasia question at the time of the Terry Schiavo affair, the woman who had been in a vegetative state for years, and whose husband fought so as to let her die against the will of her parents. It was a case that saw a rare union of Catholics and Protestants take to the streets with the backing of George W. Bush, who pushed Congress to act with an ad hoc law. It was all in vain, because in the end they pulled out the plug on Terry.
It’s hard to foresee what space the question will have in the 2008 presidential elections, because the surveys have shown most Americans to be in favor of assisted death, thus making it an uncomfortable question for the Republican candidates, while the Democrats don’t see to have much to gain by raising it.