Bush Administration Praised for Protecting Vulnerable in Oregon

SALEM, Ore., November 7, 2001 ( – Oregon’s state Attorney General’s office filed motions in U.S. District Court in Portland today seeking to block the Bush administration from hampering with the state’s allowance of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Tuesday, federal Attorney General John Ashcroft sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration reinstating the application of federal law to Oregon – the law allows the revocation of drug licenses of doctors who participate in an assisted suicide using a federally controlled substance.

The National Right to Life, Christian Medical Association, National Catholic Bishops and other groups have praised the Bush administration for their move to protect the vulnerable in Oregon from PAS. At least 70 terminally ill people have committed suicide with the connivance of physicians since Oregon’s assisted-suicide law went into effect in 1997.

While PAS remains legal in Oregon, Oregon doctors who prescribe federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide and Oregon pharmacists who dispense the drugs for assisted suicide can now have their DEA licenses to prescribe or dispense federally controlled substances revoked. Loss of a DEA license would make it difficult for most physicians to continue to practice medicine because they would no longer be able to prescribe virtually any kind of pain-killing medication.

Dr. Al Weir, Christian Medical Association President and cancer specialist said, “By clearly delineating the difference between prescribing drugs to comfort and prescribing drugs to kill, the Administration has done a tremendous service for physicians, and more importantly, for suffering patients.” James Bopp, Jr., President of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled, a public interest law firm that defends the medical treatment rights of persons with disabilities commented: “The Attorney General’s decision means that drugs that were meant to relieve pain and save lives can’t be prescribed by doctors to purposely kill their patients or provide the means to help patients kill themselves.” Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said, “This important directive not only ends the federal government’s involvement in assisted suicide, but also promotes improved pain management for patients near th! e end of life. Good medicine and good law call on physicians to kill pain, not patients. President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft should be thanked for affirming this vitally important principle.”

A national Wirthlin Worldwide poll conducted July 6-9 shows 67 % of those polled say federal law should not allow the use of federally controlled narcotics and other dangerous drugs for the purpose of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Only 29% felt federal law should allow such use, a spread of 38 points with two-thirds opposed. 4% said they didn’t know or refused to respond. (3.1% margin of error.)

(with files from Pro-Life Infonet)

See the Oregon court battle coverage at:

See related LifeSite coverage: