Bishops´ Leader Favors U.S. Decision on Assisted Suicide

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 7, 2001 ( The president of the U.S. bishops´ conference praised Attorney General John Ashcroft´s directive to overturn a 1998 opinion which allowed federally controlled drugs to be used in physician-assisted suicide.

“This important directive not only ends the federal government´s involvement in assisted suicide, but also promotes improved pain management for patients near the end of life,” Bishop Joseph Fiorenza said.

By deciding that doctors may not dispense drugs to help terminally ill patients die, Ashcroft reversed the policy of his predecessor, Janet Reno, who supported Oregon´s first-in-the-nation assisted-suicide law.

In contrast to his predecessor, Ashcroft sided with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which had long argued that doctors who prescribe drugs under Oregon´s assisted-suicide law could lose their licenses to write prescriptions.

Oregon´s attorney general vowed to challenge Ashcroft´s decision in federal court, Reuters reported.