Assisted Suicide Loses Support

A House committee has approved a bill to bar the use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide.

The measure by Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., would discourage if not prevent Oregon patients from using the state's first-in-the-nation law allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients with fewer than six months to live.

All 15 patients who died under Oregon's law during its first full year in 1998 used controlled substances to take their lives.

The proposal "will help protect vulnerable people in this country from the misuse of controlled substances," Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., said before the Judiciary Committee's 16-8 party-line vote on Tuesday.

Under the proposal, physicians who intentionally use controlled substances to cause death would face revocation of their licenses to prescribe the drugs.