Death With Dignity: Reno Looks the Other Way

For Oregon doctors, suicide is still painless

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In a major case of government doublethink, Janet Reno put the federal seal of approval on Oregon's assisted suicide law Friday -- while maintaining that neither she nor the President were dropping their longstanding opposition to euthanasia. Reno was nixing recommendations from the DEA, which wanted to withdraw prescription licenses from Oregon doctors who give their patients barbiturates. That means the Death With Dignity Act, which has no opposition from the Supreme Court, will continue without interruption from the feds.

Reno wasn't alone in being out of character; the decision put plenty of politicians and pressure groups 180 degrees from normal. Oregon senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, spoke of a victory for state's rights, while the National Right to Life committee complained that the government wasn't providing a safety net. Death With Dignity allowed the first legal suicide in U.S. history back in March. Thanks to the Attorney General, there could soon be plenty more.