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April 12 , 2000

Action Alert - Attention Needed Today, 4/12/00

There is an urgent need for all PCC members and friends to call the office of Senator Gordon Smith immediately. All you need to do is call 202-224-3753 and tell his office who you are, where you are from, and that you are "calling Senator Smith to urge him to contact Senator Hatch to encourage him to bring the Pain Relief Promotion Act to a vote in his committee this Thursday. Any further delay will clearly be designed to kill this bill which protects both doctors and patients. We urge him to contact Senator Hatch today to get this bill voted on."

If you have additional time and energy, also call his Oregon office at 326-3386 and also fax a note to him at 1-202-228-3997. Volume is important. And timing is everything. Now is the time. Call today.

Cathy Hamilton is flying to Washington tonight to talk with the Senator tomorrow. She needs your support in the form of your calls to Senator Smith. Get your family and friends to call, too. You don't have to be a doctor to do this. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the key day! Don't delay.

Here's the background. Delicate negotiations have gotten all remaining concerns about wording of the bill resolved. Not only is the AMA 100% on board, but also several groups dealing with pain care which were waiting until there was a bit better wording to make it clear that this bill gives no new authority to the federal government are now also on board. The wording is perfect. The Senate will go on recess after this week. That is why Ron Wyden is using all kinds of tricks and trying so hard to stall the bill. It will basically die if it does not come out of committee this week. We have not called for lots of letters and calls to Senator Smith before out of courtesy and because we believe he will vote the right way if it comes to a vote. The problem is getting this thing to a vote. And to do that we need Senator Smith's help NOW! We don't need him to go to the newspapers. We just need him to contact Senator Hatch and to do what he can to get the committee to vote this Thursday. If Senator Smith continues to hang back, he will be allowing himself to be perceived as supporting Wyden's call for more and more debate, which actually means no debate and no vote and no protection for vulnerable patients who are being given overdoses of controlled substances instead of treatment and care. We need your help, now.

Thank you.
Greg Hamilton, M.D. President, PCC


April 24, 2000

A Call for More Calls

Our telephone campaign was heard by Senator Smith -- loud and clear! Now, he needs to keep hearing from us. Even if you called last week, call again this week. His phone needs to keep ringing. Here is a sample message for this week. Feel free to use this one or to make up your own. Have your friends and family call, too. Please call (202-224-3753) immediately.

SAMPLE: "I am calling to let Senator Smith know I am counting on him next Tuesday to make a strong statement in favor of the Pain Relief Promotion Act and to urge Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott, to take the Pain Relief Promotion Act to the floor of the Senate for a vote."

A potential letter and fax will be sent to you by separate email (see below). His Oregon office number for an additional call is 326-3386. The intensity and frequency of the message is what he needs to hear. If you voted for him, it doesn't hurt to remind his office that you are the ones who voted for him and you are counting on him. There is still time for him to get a letter. Letters, faxes, calls. He needs to hear from us by all the routes possible. Now is the time!

(P.S. If, in addition, you want to let Wyden know what you think of his attempts to stifle national debate through tricks and filibusters, you can give him a call at 202-224-5244; that doesn't hurt either.)

N. Gregory Hamilton, M.D.


April 24, 2000

A Sample Letter for Senator Smith

In addition to phone calls, Senator Smith needs to hear from us in letters and faxes. The following sample letter will still get to him on time through the regular mail. Also send it by fax. The Senator needs to hear from us by all possible routes, even if you called him last week.



Honorable Senator Gordon Smith
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Facsimile 1-202-228-3997


Dear Senator Smith: I am counting on you to make a strong statement next Tuesday, April 25, supporting the Pain Relief Promotion Act and urging Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott, to move this important piece of legislation to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Not even one doctor in one state can be allowed by the federal government to use his federal DEA license to prescribe lethal drugs to kill its citizens without making the federal government and all its representatives complicit in the killing. Already, too many people have died. Already a woman diagnosed with depression and a demented woman pressured by her family have been given lethal prescriptions using federal DEA licenses. Already profit sharing, fully capitated HMOs have provided federally controlled substances for assisted suicides instead of medical care. How many more must die before the federal government acknowledges its responsibility to assure that federally controlled substances are used for medical care, not for killing its citizens? This is a federal issue.

I urge you to speak out clearly in favor of the Pain Relief Promotion Act and to write to Senator Lott, letting him know that this important piece of legislation must move quickly to the floor of the Senate for a vote -- before more lives are lost.



April 25, 2000

Senator Smith Testifies in Support of the PRPA

Dear PCC member:
In testimony given this morning to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Pain Relief Promotion Act*, Oregon Senator Gordon Smith chose principle over political expediency. He did this despite the predictions of many pundits who believed that he would join Senator Wyden in opposing this legislation.

Instead, Senator Smith showed his integrity by reaffirming his long-standing commitment to protect all human life--including the weak, the vulnerable, and the terminally ill. Some observers reported that he actually wept as he clearly conveyed his strong and unequivocal support for the Pain Relief Promotion Act. His decision to support this important legislation came in the face of intense pressure and lobbying from groups promoting assisted suicide.

Please consider contacting Senator Smith (telephone: 202-224-3753; fax: 202-228-3997) to support and affirm him for his well-considered and courageous decision.

William L. Toffler MD
National Director, PCC

*The Pain Relief Promotion Act (PRPA) protects patients and physicians and ensures that all patients in all states will have access to appopriate pain relief measures. The PRPA specifies that this protection will apply even if aggressive use of pain medications is needed and even if an unintended consequence of such pain relief were that death were hastened. At the same time, the PRPA specifies that this protection does not apply to the deliberate overdosing of patients with the intent to cause death. Thus, the PRPA clarifies the confusion caused by Janet Reno's decision to exclude Oregon from the traditional oversight given to all states (and still given to the 49 other states). Unfortunately Reno's confused interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act has already resulted in the deaths of over 40 (known) individuals in Oregon who have had their lives ended by deliberate overdoses of controlled substances--some even when they had never requested such "treatment." Support for the PRPA includes the American Medical Association, many pain management and hospice organizations as well as Physicians for Compassionate Care. If you would like more information about the PRPA, please contact the PCCEF office at 503-533-8154.


© Copyright 2000
Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation