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LOS ANGELES _ Rejecting Attorney General John Ashcroft's attempt to overturn the nation's only physician-assisted suicide law, a federal judge in Portland, Ore., ruled Wednesday that the government cannot usurp the will of voters in Oregon by punishing doctors who participate in the practice.
The ruling strikes down Ashcroft's order issued in November declaring that physician-assisted suicide was not a "legitimate medical practice." Asserting that the 1994 law approved by voters violated the Controlled Substances Act, Ashcroft said he would authorize federal drug enforcement agents to punish doctors who prescribe lethal doses of medication for dying patients seeking to end their lives.
Using harsh language, U.S. District Judge Robert Jones on Wednesday …