National Catholic Register


Enactment of Pain Relief Act Is Urged

BY Jim Cosgrove

June 27 - July 03, 1999 Issue | Posted 6/27/99 at 1:00 PM


The National Right to Life Committee is urging swift enactment of the Pain Relief Promotion Act, introduced in Congress June 17 by Sen. Don Nickles and Reps. Henry Hyde and Bart Stupak.

“The Pain Relief Promotion Act fosters pain relief and palliative care, essential positive alternatives to euthanasia,” said Burke Baich, director of the National Right to Life's department of medical ethics. “It also ensures that narcotics and other dangerous drugs controlled by the federal government are not used to kill patients.”

According to a poll conducted June 4–8 by Wirthlin Worldwide, Americans by a 64%-31% margin said no when asked whether federal law should allow the use of federally controlled drugs for the purpose of assisted suicide and euthanasia. The poll had a margin of error of 3.1%.

While 36 states have statutes against assisting suicide and seven others arguably prevent it under the common law, Oregon has specifically legalized it and efforts are accelerating in the California Assembly and the Alaska courts to follow its lead. All of the officially reported legally assisted suicides in Oregon have used federally controlled drugs.

“While we must fight the drive to legalize the killing of those deemed to have a poor quality of life wherever the battle presents itself, ultimately only protective laws on the national level can be fully effective in safeguarding the lives of the vulnerable,” Baich said.