U.S. Judge Keeps Oregon’s New Suicide Law in Limbo

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A judge blocked Oregon from putting its first-in-the-nation assisted suicide law into effect Tuesday until a court can decide if the voter-approved measure is constitutional.

Measure 16, narrowly approved in November, allows a patient to request a lethal dose of drugs if at least two doctors determine the person has less than six months to live.

“Surely, the first assisted suicide law in this country deserves a considered, thoughtful constitutional analysis,” U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan wrote in his ruling.


Hogan did not set a trial date but said he hoped to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

The attorney general’s office said last week that if Hogan issued a preliminary injunction, as he did Tuesday, it could be a year or more before the constitutional challenge is resolved.

But Deputy Atty. Gen. Tom Balmer said he was not surprised Hogan decided a trial was needed.

“This is a novel law, and it was bound to end up in court,” Balmer said. “I think the judge is saying this is the first law of its kind, that these are difficult issues, and that he wants to take the time to decide them correctly.”

The measure was supposed to take effect Dec. 8, but Hogan issued a temporary restraining order the day before so he could hear arguments for and against it before deciding whether to grant an injunction.

Measure 16 was approved by Oregon voters by a 51% to 49% margin after an emotional campaign that pitted the Hemlock Society against the Roman Catholic Church and anti-abortion groups.