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Court backs assisted suicide

The week's news at a glance.

Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week upheld the nation’s only state law allowing physician-assisted suicide, ruling that the Justice Department cannot punish doctors in Oregon who help terminally ill patients die. The ruling was a blow to the Bush administration, which fought Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act as contrary to the “culture of life.” In its 6-3 decision, the justices said that nothing in federal law prohibits states from allowing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to dying patients. The court said that the Justice Department’s attempt to determine what was medically appropriate in these cases represented a “radical shift of authority from the states to the federal government.” Chief Justice John Roberts joined Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in dissent—Roberts’ first dissent since joining the court in October.

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