URGENT ACTION ALERT H.R. 2260, The Pain Relief Promotion Act MAY HAVE A SENATE FLOOR VOTE VERY SOON.
- On June 5, 1998, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno announced that the federal Controlled Substances Act establishes no uniform national policy against the use of federally regulated drugs for assisted suicide, overturning an earlier policy determination by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Thus, she said, these drugs may be used to assist patients' suicides in any state, such as Oregon, which allows the practice under state law.
- Under federal law and regulations, the use and prescription of certain narcotics and other dangerous drugs are generally prohibited unless a doctor with a special federal "registration" to prescribe them does so for a "legitimate medical purpose." Assisting in a suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose."
- Contrast the Attorney General's position on the use of federally regulated drugs for assisted suicide with the Justice Department's position on marijuana, whose "medicinal use" has been legalized by referenda in a number of states. The Justice Department continues to maintain that the use of marijuana remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act no matter what state law may say.
- Under Reno's ruling, the federal government facilitates the killing of patients in Oregon, by acknowledging their killing as "legitimate," and by providing access to the lethal drugs needed to carry it out.
- The Hatch substitute version of the Nickles-Lieberman bill is the current version of the Pain Relief Promotion Act. It has been adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and has the enthusiastic support of the American Medical Association and of most specialty medical organizations concerned with pain, including many who opposed earlier versions. The Hatch substitute is supported by the American Academy of Pain Management, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the Association of Pain Management Anesthesiologists, the American Pain Society, and the American Society of Anesthesiologists, as well as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Hospice Association of America, to name only a few.
- Popular opinion is clearly on our side. By 64% to 31%, Americans say "no" when asked whether federal law should allow use of federally controlled drugs for the purpose of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Please call or write your U.S. senators today. The number for the Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121. The in-state office of your U.S. senator available from local telephone information.