ASSISTED SUICIDE: Wyden Threatens Pain Bill Filibuster
In a career-first, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has vowed he will filibuster a Republican bill that would effectively block Oregon's assisted-suicide law, which has been on the books since 1997. "[I]f [Senate Majority Whip Don] Nickles tries to bring this bill to the floor of the Senate, I'm prepared to go out there and speak for a long, long, long, long time," Wyden said (CongressDaily, 7/21). Nickles (R-OK) and House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) are the sponsors of the Pain Relief Promotion act, a revamped version of a 1998 bill first introduced to "thwart Oregon's Death with Dignity Act." Unlike last year's bill, this version includes a "wide array of provisions aimed at improving pain management" and has the backing the American Medical Association and the National Hospice Organization. Although the act would "authorize doctors to use drugs to treat patients' pain aggressively," it explicitly prohibits the "use of federally controlled substances for assisted suicide." Wyden noted that the bill is "clearly aimed at overturning Oregon law. I think it is wrong for a member of Congress, thousands of miles from the state of Oregon, to substitute his own personal judgment on a matter like this"(American Health Line, 6/18). The bill has already cleared a House Judiciary subcommittee, and must go to the full Judiciary Committee and the Commerce Committee before heading to the Senate floor (CongressDaily, 7/21).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.