Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) tells readers, "Let's get the facts straight" ["Health, Not Suicide," letter, Nov. 11]. Let's do that. Here are some facts Sen. Nickles left out:
Stymied by Oregon's Right to Die law, Sen. Nickles and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ind.) sought other means to defeat it. They persuaded the Drug Enforcement Agency director Thomas A. Constantine to go along with their "Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act." His stance was reversed by Attorney General Reno.
Sen. Nickles made an unsuccessful attempt to codify his bill by attempting to sneak it into an appropriations bill but dropped the issue when faced with a Senate filibuster. A year later, an almost identical bill, now renamed "The Pain Relief Promotion Act" (what a public-relations switch) was introduced. It passed the House and now faces a filibuster in the Senate and the likelihood of a presidential veto. The bill is opposed by a majority of the public and a number of state medical societies.
Sen. Nickles--an ardent supporter of states' rights, individual liberty and responsibility and personal autonomy--willingly would have a federal government bureaucrat overturn the wishes of a majority of a state's voters, the acts of its legislature and governor. Worse, he would deny a suffering and terminal patient the right to determine the conditions of his or her own death.
RICHARD S. COOLEY