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IN BETRAYAL, SENATE DEMOCRATS BLOCK ANTI-EUTHANASIA BILL.

As patients in Oregon continue to be killed by federally controlled drugs under the state's law that legalized assisting suicide, a number of Senate Democratic co-sponsors of a bill to end that practice have effectively switched their positions and agreed to co-operate to block the Pain Relief Promotion Act.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the measure last year on a bipartisan vote of 271-156. The act would prevent the use of federally controlled drugs, such as barbiturates, for assisting suicide and euthanasia, while also establishing programs to provide better control of pain as a positive alternative. (All reported deaths due to legalized assisting suicide in Oregon have been caused by federally controlled substances.)

The act has strong support from national medical organizations. Although endorsed by the American Medical Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and virtually every medical organization of specialists in pain management, the bill has nonetheless been stymied in the Senate by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), who threatened to lead a filibuster.

To surmount a filibuster, 60 Senators would be required to impose "cloture" to bring the measure to a vote. Were the Pain Relief Promotion Act to come to a vote, it would likely pass.

Co-sponsors of a companion Senate bill had included six Democratic senators; a seventh had voted for the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although most Republican senators are expected to support the bill and cloture , the votes of the Democratic senators are indispensable in reaching the 60-vote threshold.

However, at a regular weekly luncheon September 12, Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) urged all Senate Democrats to vote against cloture on the bill, purportedly as a tactic to get Senate Republicans to allow votes on unrelated issues.

Co-sponsor Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.), thereafter publicly announced, "I will be voting against cloture on that bill. ... I believe there are many more pressing issues that this Congress needs to deal with."

Yet just a few days later, on September 26, Senator Landrieu and all other Democratic co-sponsors of the Pain Relief Promotion Act voted for cloture on a bill to raise the number of visas for foreign high technology workers--without exacting any agreement from Republicans to allow votes on other issues.

"These senators must not be permitted to hide behind a claim that they are simply advancing their agenda on other issues when they vote to kill patients by euthanasia during a cloture vote on the Pain Relief Promotion Act," said NRLC Executive Director David N. O'Steen, Ph.D. "It will be clear where their priorities are--and that they are not with protecting the vulnerable elderly and people with disabilities from untimely death.">EN
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Publication:National Right to Life News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Words:443
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