WASHINGTON (October 27, 1999) -- Cardinal William H. Keeler said today's overwhelming vote by the House of Representatives to approve the Pain Relief Promotion Act (HR 2260) "should mark a turning point in our nation's efforts to promote the comfort and dignity of seriously ill patients."
The Pain Relief Promotion Act is intended to promote the use of federally regulated drugs for pain management. It also reverses a ruling last year by Attorney General Janet Reno that authorized use of these drugs for assisted suicide if permitted by state law.
The House approved the legislation October 27 by a vote of 271 - 156.
Cardinal Keeler is Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
This is the text of his statement:
"Today's overwhelming House vote of 271 to 156 approving the Pain Relief Promotion Act (HR 2260) should mark a turning point in our nation's efforts to promote the comfort and dignity of seriously ill patients.
Congress has recognized for the first time that drugs under federal control should never be used to take life, but only to heal and comfort. Congressmen Hyde and Stupak and their many colleagues who sponsored this important bipartisan legislation have helped our society to take a major step toward respect for some of our most vulnerable citizens. By clarifying the law to encourage effective pain relief, without condoning assisted suicide or euthanasia, our nation will attest to the equal dignity of all human life and to the healing ethic that should define the medical profession. I urge the Senate to approve this legislation, and urge the President to sign it into law, at the earliest opportunity."