ASSISTED SUICIDE: Drive to Ban Stands Up to Challenges
A GOP-sponsored bill that would make it illegal for physicians to prescribe federally-controlled drugs in lethal doses survived repeated Democratic attempts to weaken it yesterday in the House Judiciary Committee. The National Journal News Service reports that under the bill, HR 2260, physicians would lose their licenses to prescribe any controlled substance if they assisted in a suicide. Democrats see the bill as a particular threat to Oregon, which is the only state in the nation that allows physician-assisted suicides -- in cases where a patient is in severe and irreparable pain and wishes to die. Oregon doctors worry that the risk of losing their license would prevent them from prescribing common controlled drugs to patients. Bill sponsor Henry Hyde (R-IL), a strong right-to-life advocate, said he viewed medical practice as helping people to live, not to die. But Democratic opponents, including John Conyers (MI) and Barney Frank (MA), said that "Republicans are always talking about state rights, but with this legislation they [are] trampling on the states' powers and dictating ... what [to] do in a medical situation." The NJ News Service reports that the debate "did nothing to change anyone's mind and each side voted as a bloc" so that the Republicans, with the committee majority, won each time. The panel put off final action on the bill until Tuesday. The bill has 155 House co-sponsors and the backing of numerous right-to-life organizations (9/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.