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Is Fox Sending A Warning To It's Audience About Right To Die Issues?

Reported by Donna - January 17, 2006

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the Bush administration's attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die, protecting Oregon's one-of-a-kind assisted-suicide law. The decision was 6 - 3 in favor of allowing physicians to assist patients with end of life decisions. This was covered today on Studio B, but with several pointers made to their faithful audience.

The following is my transcript, verbatim but pretty much word for word.

Shepard Smith: The Supreme court today upholding Oregon's assisted suicide law. This law, the only one of it's kind in this country (Comment: First hint). At issue before this court, the boundary between Federal Authority and State's Rights. (Comment: Remember how much the Supreme Court respected Florida's State's Rights in the election of 2000?)

It was a 6 -3 decision in which Justices rejected the Bush Administration's efforts (Hint #2) to punish doctors who helped their patients die. The Chief Justice, John Roberts, part of the minority in this case, the ones who said, "No, you can't assist yourself in suicide." Joining us now in Studio B, Judge Andrew Napolitano, our senior judicial analyst. Interesting, this was a 6 - 3 ruling........

Andrew Napolitano: Right......

SS: ....which said, what, now?

AN: Well, in 1997, the voters in Oregon authorized assisted physician suicide. It was challenged in the court. It was found unconstitutional. They reauthorized (his emphasis) it by a referendum even more overwhelming than the first time and the courts upheld it. In an effort to prevent Oregon physicians from assisting their patients to kill themselves, the then Attorney General of the United States, John Ashcroft, on his own, issued regulations prohibiting the physicians from doing so and directing the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI to prosecute. (Comment: Another case of extreme hubris or just power hungry? Why does this administration always think they can just make up their own laws and decide how to carry them out?)

SS: Just all by himself, without any......what's that all about?

AN: You put your finger right on it.

SS: Can I do that, too, Judge?

AN: No, you can't do that.

SS: Neither can he, right? He's gone.

AN: Neither can his successor. So the Supreme Court said today if the Congress (Comment: Another hint, his emphasis) had outlawed the use of drugs by doctors to allow patients to kill themselves is one thing, but the Attorney General does not write the laws in our country.

SS: Really? (Sounded sarcastic to me)

AN: So he can't.....

SS: A-ha!

AN: ......do that.

SS: Wow, now the dissenters in this case are who? Whom?

AN: The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas. (Comment: No kidding?) Justice Scalia wrote a stinging dissent.

SS: All Catholics.

AN: There's one catholic with the majority but you're right, the three Catholics are the three dissenters here basically saying that Congress left enough wiggle room for the Attorney General to decide when prescribing a medication is no longer for a medical use. (Comment: This is the dissent? Do we want the Attorney General to decide the law of the land for everyone, excluding ourselves and our doctors?)

SS: A-ha!

AN: And in the opinion of the three of the, killing yourself is not a medical use. In the opinion of the six person majority, if Congress intended for that to be the case Congress would have said so and it hasn't. (Comment: Another hint)

SS: This is about Oregon. How does this affect the rest of us, or how can it?

AN: It has basically told the other 49 states if you want to enact physician assisted suicides there is nothing in the Federal Law to prevent you from doing so. (Comment - big hints - get the law passed in Congress or have your state throw a law in there, quick!) And it said to the physicians in Oregon, you can go ahead and prescribe those controlled, dangerous substances (Comment: Doctors prescribe controlled substances every day, he made it seem like it was horrific) to allow people to take their own lives, following the statute. Two physicians have to make sure that the person is mentally sound and two physicians have to certify that they're suffering from an incurable and painful ailment.

You can't just kill yourself, even in Oregon, willy nilly, there have to be reasons for it, medical reasons.

SS: Hmmmmm....Jack Krevorkian is not affected over this?

AN: No, Krevorkian is not affected. He did it in Michigan, where it is not permitted.

SS: Alright Judge, thank you.

AN: You're welcome, Shep.

Comment: Fox seems to throw out key words to scare their audience. For instance 'controlled, dangerous, substances' or 'nothing in the Federal law to prevent you' (from having end of life laws in other states). The hints are to tell their audience that this is where the radical, religious right stands, only three of the Justices decided against this and they were Catholics. Judge Samuel Alito is also a Catholic. Why was this brought up? Why is this even important? It shouldn't be - a person's religion shouldn't mean anything in how they rule on the law of the land.

I think Fox just aired the segment the way they did to use the key words and the hints to tell their right wing audience that this happened in Oregon and if you don't want it to happen in your state, get legislation passed. Or do it at the Federal level. And don't forget, we could use another Catholic on the Supreme Court.

Thanks, again, for reading.

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