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Second Opinion / COMMENT FROM OTHER MEDIA : LA OPINION : A Murderer Has Rights Denied the Terminally Ill

September 20, 1993| Excerpted from a commentary by Marcos Rubenstein in La Opinion, a Spanish-language daily in Los Angeles. Translated by Lorenza Munoz. and

The execution (Aug. 24) of San Quentin inmate David Mason demonstrates that perhaps the state of California respects the wishes of a murderer more than of a terminally ill patient who wants to end his or her life. Indeed, voters reinstated the death penalty but also rejected proposition 163, which granted people afflicted with a fatal disease the right to die if they were diagnosed as having six months or less to live. Mason, on the other hand, was granted the right of refusing to appeal his death sentence. He did not have to suffer through a drawn-out waiting period before his death.

If the government grants an individual on death row the right to choose when he will die and then decides that an individual does not have the right to end his or her life when seriously ill, this places the state in the role of God. This also illustrates the cynical and contradictory opinion of California voters regarding life and individual rights.

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