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Pain Relief Promotion Act : hostile substitute
Johnson Substitute Amendment
10/27/1999
House Roll Call No. 543
106th Congress, 1st Session

Failed: 188-239 (see complete tally)
NRLC backed the Pain Relief Promotion Act (HR
2260), a bill to prevent the prescription of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide or euthanasia, while fostering their use to alleviate pain. This bill was made necessary by two events. First, the state of Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide, a law that went into effect in November
1997. Second, Clinton Administration Attorney General Janet Reno ruled that Oregon physicians would be allowed to use federally controlled drugs to assist suicides. Under federal law and regulations, the use and prescription of certain narcotics and other dangerous drugs (collectively called "controlled substances") is generally prohibited, unless a doctor with a special federal "registration" to prescribe them does so for a "legitimate medical purpose."
In November 1997, as the Oregon law legalizing assisting suicide came into
effect, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that
since assisting suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose," doctors' registrations to prescribe federally controlled drugs could be revoked if they used them to kill patients. However, in June 1998, Attorney General Reno
reversed this ruling, saying that federally controlled drugs could be used to assist suicide in Oregon or other states that authorized such use by changes in state law. In response to the Reno ruling, Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Il.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,and Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mi.), introduced the Pain Relief Promotion Act (H.R. 2260), with the
strong support of NRLC. The bill would have restored the original DEA ruling barring the use of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide or euthanasia, while clearly affirming that physicians may vigorously employ these drugs to control pain, even if this entails the secondary risk of shortening a patient's life. As a positive alternative to euthanasia, the bill authorizes $5 million annually to foster training of health care professionals in, and to collect and disseminate protocols to achieve, better pain
management and palliative care. When the House took up the bill on October 27, 1999,
Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-Ct.) offered a "killer substitute" amendment-- that is, an amendment to wipe out the bill and replace it with an entirely different measure, which would have removed the provisions to prevent the prescription of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide or euthanasia. NRLC opposed the Johnson substitute, which failed, 188-239, roll call 543. On the next roll call, the House passed the bill.


Vote Map: House Roll Call No. 543
Votes For : 188
Votes Against : 239
Not Voting : 6

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