Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, through its Institute for Public Affairs, applauded yesterday’s House passage of the “Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999,” a measure designed to empower physicians to aggressively provide palliative care to patients in pain and to ban physician assisted suicide.
The “PRPA” will create additional protections under the law for physicians who use controlled substances to relieve patients’ extreme pain. The measure provides a “safe harbor” for doctors who prescribe controlled substances (ie: narcotics) to reduce pain even if the use of such drugs unintentionally leads to a patient’s death. The House measure also overruled an Oregon law that allows doctors to issue lethal prescriptions for the terminally ill.
Nathan Diament, director of the Union’s Institute, stated that “the Orthodox Jewish community is pleased with the House’s vote in favor of aggressive palliative care for those suffering pain and against physician assisted suicide. The policy promoted by this legislation is consistent with ancient Jewish values of recognizing the infinite value and sanctity of human life and seeking to preserve it, while at the same time taking all responsible measures to comfort the ill. We hope the U.S. Senate will act quickly to pass its companion legislation, S.1272, sponsored by Senators Don Nickles (R-Ok) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT).”
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations has been a consistent opponent of legalizing physician assisted suicide in the United States, including having filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing its recognition as a constitutional right in 1996.