X-Message-Number: 12169
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 15:57:59 -0700
From: David Brandt-Erichsen <>
Subject: House panel passes anti-Oregon bill

The Oregonian newspaper in Portland reports (21 July) on the latest
development in Congress on PAS :-

	House panel passes end-of-life care bill 

               Wednesday, July 21, 1999

               By Dave Hogan of The Oregonian staff 

               WASHINGTON -- A House subcommittee on Tuesday
               approved legislation on end-of-life care without
               amendment over the objections of Democrats who said it
               would trample Oregon's right to set its own course on
               assisted suicide. 

               The Pain Relief Promotion Act, which also has been
               introduced in the Senate, would prohibit the use of
               federally controlled substances for assisted suicide. 

               It would effectively block Oregon's assisted-suicide law,
               which took effect in 1997. 

               The bill would authorize doctors to use drugs to treat
               patients' pain aggressively, even when that treatment
               increases the risk of death. But it would prohibit the use
		of federally controlled drugs to intentionally assist a

               "The fundamental issue is . . . whether we're going to
               support assisted suicide or not," said Rep. Charles
               Canady, R-Fla., who heads the Constitution
               subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. 

               With seven Republicans and three Democrats present, the
               subcommittee approved the bill by voice vote, apparently
               along party lines. Canady said he hopes the full Judiciary
               committee will vote on the bill next week. 

               During Tuesday's hearing, the Constitution subcommittee
               rejected the only amendment offered. 

               Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., proposed that doctors be
               allowed to dispense controlled substances for assisted
               suicide "in compliance with applicable state, federal or
               local laws." 

               "I hope my colleagues will recognize that we should be
               honoring the rights of states, as we always give lip
               to, rather than overruling the rights of states, as we're
               doing in this bill," Watt said. 

               But Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., the Judiciary chairman, said
               the bill is needed so the nation would have a consistent
               federal policy regarding the use of federally controlled
               substances for assisted suicide. 

               "If Oregon is allowed to be the odd man out, then you
               have a semi-national policy," Hyde said. 

               Last year, many medical and patient-care groups opposed
               legislation that would have blocked Oregon's
               assisted-suicide law. They said it could cause physicians
               to back away from aggressively treating patients' pain out
               of fear they would be investigated by federal regulators if
               the patient died. 

               This year, however, two leaders of last year's opposition
               -- the American Medical Association and the National
               Hospice Organization -- have endorsed the legislation,
               saying it addressed concerns raised last year. 

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