ASSISTED SUICIDE: Hatch Grills AG Reno At Hearing
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this week "quizzed" Attorney General Janet Reno about the Justice Department's June 5 ruling "that federal law does not authorize the [Drug Enforcement Administration] to sanction Oregon doctors for assisting in a suicide under the state's" Death with Dignity Act. Hatch, who opposes the Oregon law, believes current "federal law prohibits controlled substances from being used to endanger public health and safety and must be used for legitimate medical purposes." At the hearing, Hatch told Reno, "Obviously, at least to me, using drugs to kill poses a greater risk to public health safety than using them to addict. Now, I want to ask how you can justify your conclusion?" Reno responded by noting that the Justice ruling "is limited to the particular circumstances in Oregon," where voters and policymakers "reached a considered judgment that physician-assisted suicide should be authorized under narrow conditions and in compliance with certain detailed procedures." She conceded that federal action would be warranted if a doctor assisted a suicide "in a state that has not authorized the practice under any conditions, or the physician fails to comply with the state's procedures in doing so" (Barnett, Portland Oregonian, 7/16).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.