ASSISTED SUICIDE: House Reschedules Vote For Today
The House of Representatives yesterday postponed a vote on a bill to ban physician-assisted suicides. According to the House Republican cloakroom, a vote on Rep. Henry Hyde's (R-IL) Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act (H.R. 4006) will occur today (9/17). Hyde's bill is intended to overturn Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. H.R. 4006 would make it illegal for health care professionals to use federal controlled narcotics for the purpose of assisted suicide.
New Survey Numbers
The National Right to Life Committee yesterday released new survey numbers showing that a majority of Americans oppose the use of federally controlled narcotics for assisted suicide. Sixty-four percent of respondents to a recent Wirthlin Worldwide survey said federal law should prohibit use of such drugs for assisted suicide or euthanasia, while 35% said federal law should permit such use. The survey of 1010 adults was conducted Sept. 11-14; it has a +/- 3.08% margin of error and a 95% confidence interval (release, 9/16).
More Editorial Opposition
Two major newspapers came out against the Hyde bill today. According to the New York Times, the bill's adoption would make doctors "less likely to provide aggressive but potentially lethal drug therapy for pain relief." The editorial concludes: "It is the lack of adequate pain management that drives some patients to seek suicide in the first place. The bill, by giving federal bureaucrats new power to second-guess difficult medical decisions, would increase needless suffering among terminal patients" (9/17). The Los Angeles Times makes a similar argument. The editorial says Rep. Hyde "is right to be concerned that the growing field of 'palliative care' ... could be abused by unscrupulous health care providers simply wishing to trim the expenses they incur in caring for terminally ill patients." However, the Los Angeles Times contends "the solution to that problem does not lie in Hyde's punitive, ill-conceived legislation, which House and Senate leaders irresponsibly scheduled for a vote without allotting the discussion time that would have enabled Congress to understand the ways in which the bill would overturn existing medical practices in America" (9/17).