WASHINGTON, November 2, 2001 ( – Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden wrote President George Bush Tuesday warning him not to tamper with Oregon’s law allowing physician assisted suicide. “I am writing to urge you to avoid taking any unnecessarily divisive actions at this time with regard to Oregon’s physician assisted suicide laws,” Wyden said in a four-paragraph letter. Wyden said he wrote the letter based on rumours from federal sources that Bush was set to overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which has resulted in at least 70 deaths thus far.

The Federal Drug Administration, which should have taken actions against Oregon doctors prescribing lethal doses of federally controlled substances, was forbidden to do so in 1998 by Clinton-era Attorney General Janet Reno. While Oregon’s Wyden went threatened to take the issue to the courts, another Oregon Senator spoke in favour of allowing the Drug Administration to enforce the law equally throughout the US. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said that eventually the Bush administration “is going to enforce the law as it had been for 30 years prior to Janet Reno.”

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