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[World, February 18, 1995]
When Oregon passed "Measure 16" last November, it became the first state in the nation to give doctors permission to prescribe poisonous drugs in order to kill dying patients. In fact, according to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Oregon is "the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize assisted suicide by popular vote." Oregon was a well-chosen test site; it has the lowest church attendance in the nation, and pro-euthanasia messages played on bias against pro-life Catholic leadership (it's been said that "Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the elite class.") The lines don't split precisely between Christians and non-believers, however. Many Christians feel an innate revulsion for legalized killing of the sick, but some do not. A recent letter in our Mailbag column proclaimed, "Thank God for Dr. Kevorkian." It's human nature to feel panic at the thought of dying in misery, and to long to circumvent the possibility.