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Gonzales v. Oregon

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of choice at the end of life on January 17, 2006. In a 6 to 3 decision, the court ruled that the Attorney General’s attempt to intervene in affairs of Oregon’s aid-in-dying law exceeded his authority.

Compassion & Choices led the legal effort to defend Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, as we had to pass and implement it.

About the decision, Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, said, “This is a watershed decision for freedom and democracy in the United States. It reaffirms the liberty, dignity and privacy Americans cherish at the end of life.”

At the time, the organization pledged to defend any Congressional attack on the Oregon law and not to stop until all Americans can live and die as free people, in dignity and according to their own values.

This case served as a national call to end-of-life care providers around the nation. Thanks to this verdict, facilities now recognize the importance of providing appropriate care. Facilities must share accurate information about what they provide, recognizing the consequences to both patient and provider when misrepresentations are made.

Justice Kennedy’s Opinion

Justice Scalia’s Opinion

Justice Thomas’ Opinion

Barbara Coombs Lee: Role Reversal

New York Times: The Assisted-Suicide Decision

Washington Post: Life-and-Death Decisions

Los Angeles Times: States of Hypocrisy

Belief Net: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Oregon’s Right-to-Die Law

New York Times: Fraught Issue, but Narrow Ruling in Oregon Suicide Case

New York Times: Justices Reject U.S. Bid to Block Assisted Suicide


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