Judge Temporarily Blocks Ashcroft Order to Shut Down Oregon Assisted Suicide Law
A federal judge yesterday "temporarily blocked" an order by Attorney General John Ashcroft to effectively "shut down" Oregon's landmark physician-assisted suicide law, the AP/Nando Times reports (AP/Nando Times, 11/9). U.S. District Judge Robert Jones granted a temporary restraining order against Ashcroft's directive to the Drug Enforcement Administration to target the prescription licenses of doctors who prescribe lethal drugs for terminally ill patients. Jones' order, which was requested by Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, will remain in effect through Nov. 20, when he "may rule on whether to grant a preliminary injunction until the case can be tried in court" (Booth, Washington Post, 11/9). "There is no showing that the U.S. would be irreparably impaired by a temporary stay of the attorney general's action," Jones wrote (Seper, Washington Times, 11/9). "We're very pleased with this ruling, and we will continue to defend the rights of patients and physicians in Oregon," Myers spokesperson Kevin Neely said (Washington Post, 11/9). Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, the only law of its kind in the nation, allows doctors to presribe, but not administer, lethal drugs to a terminally ill patient after two physicians agree that the patient has less than six months to live, has chosen to die voluntarily and is capable of making health care decisions (AP/Nando Times, 11/9). The Washington Times reports that unless Ashcroft's directive, which was issued Tuesday, is permanently overturned, the law "probably would be negated because doctors are not likely to risk federal sanctions" (Washington Times, 11/9).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.