ASSISTED SUICIDE: Wyden Forces Delay in Measure Markup
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) yesterday blocked the markup of a bill scheduled for the Senate Judiciary Committee that would overturn Oregon's assisted suicide law, CongressDaily reports. Wyden is against assisted suicide and his state's law, but nevertheless opposes the bill because "it could deter physicians from prescribing adequate pain relief for fear of being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration." Sponsored by Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.), the Pain Relief Promotion Act would overturn a U.S. Department of Justice ruling that the federal Controlled Substances Act "does not forbid Oregon physicians from prescribing controlled drugs to assist a suicide in accordance with the state's 'Death with Dignity' act." Supporters of the legislation argue that it would "make it easier" for doctors to prescribe strong pain killers to those who need them by amending the Controlled Substances Act. But opponents of the legislation disagree. Gladys White of the American Nurses Association said, "It becomes frightening when law enforcement officials who have no expertise in health care have the freedom to second guess the intention of health care practitioners." Wyden, citing his concerns over the process by which the bill is being considered, said, "For the Judiciary Committee to ram through a bill that will compound the problem without hearings in this Congress violates every principle of good government." He is threatening a filibuster on the Senate floor. (Rovner, 4/6).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.