In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court upheld an Oregon law that gives physicians the right to help terminally ill patients. The decision is likely to cause major changes in end-of-life care across the country. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had sought authority to block the state law on the grounds that physician-assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose." In order to qualify for Oregon's law, doctors must to determine that a patient has less than six months to live and is of sound mind. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said "authority claimed by the attorney general is both beyond his expertise and incongruous with the statutory purposes and design."
Prior to the ruling, physician and patient advocates writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, New York Times and other publications, had expressed concern that if the law was overturned there would be more DEA interference in all palliative care.
- see this article from The New York Times