WASHINGTON (February 22, 2005)– Today the Supreme Court agreed to review a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the use of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide in the state of Oregon. The question before the Supreme Court is whether Oregon doctors may "opt out" of federal standards governing the safe use of controlled substances and prescribe them with the intent to assist in suicides. The case is Gonzales v. Oregon.
"Federally controlled drugs should be used to heal and comfort patients, not to kill them," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Since 1984, Congress has provided that federal licenses to prescribe these drugs can be withheld from physicians who use them to endanger "public health and safety," regardless of what a state's law may allow.
"This case has never been about the federal government 'overturning' Oregon law," Ruse clarified. "Rather, it is about whether Oregon doctors can exempt themselves from federal law and prescribe federally controlled substances with the intent of causing their patients' deaths."
"Oregon's state law does not give its doctors a right to overturn federal law," Ruse said.
"We are hopeful the Court will uphold the uniform enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act and stop the use of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicides," said Ruse.