On November 4, the Beaver State became the Suicide State. Oregon voters reaffirmed a ballot measure on physician-assisted suicide (CT News, Dec. 8, 1997, p. 64). The last time they considered this issue, it squeaked by with a 2 percent margin, and a judge put the matter on hold. This time the spread was a solid 20 percent, and the court lifted the injunction.

Why did assisted suicide make sense to more voters this time? Perhaps because only the "useful" computes in our pragmatic age, and the value of life—especially one where there is suffering—is no longer self-evident. So why not be rational and end it?

What has really died is transcendence, the sense that undergirding our existence is a great, self-existent I AM who provides meaning, coherence, and direction to all that is. It is this religious sense that Michigan's infamous Dr. Jack Kevorkian considers the biggest obstacle to the rational adoption of assisted suicide. "Religious dogma has become part of the marrow of humanity. We can't get rid of it," he protests. "There should be absolutely no connection between medicine and religion, but there is, and it's paralyzing." Does he see no connection? "Going through medical school," he says, " … I knew euthanasia wasn't immoral, because my mind just wasn't encumbered with all this crap, you know?"

Suspicion that religion was contaminating medicine was also a factor in Oregon. The Catholic church, along with other pro-life Christians, fought the measure. The moral protest of religious groups was undermined by the pro-suicide forces, who broadcast scare ads, claiming the Catholic church was trying to control the lives of Oregonians.

When belief in God is gone, the claims of religion are interpreted as the mere ...

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