By JEFF BARNARD
Sen. Ron Wyden on Friday won an uphill battle to protect Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law from the latest attempt to kill it, but opponents and supporters both said efforts to overturn the first-in-the-nation law are not over.
The Oregon Democrat declared victory from his Senate office in Washington, D.C., after Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., failed to attach a rider overturning the 4-year-old Oregon law to the final appropriations bill of the session.
"They told us we didn’t have a chance," said Wyden. "Now the dust is settling on the 106th Congress and this battle to preserve Oregon’s vote on the matter of physician-assisted suicide has been won."
However, a spokeswoman for Nickles, the assistant majority leader, said he has not given up and will raise the issue again next year, either in Congress or with President-elect George W. Bush, who has said he would sign a Nickles bill.
"All options are on the table," said spokeswoman Gayle Osterberg.
Wyden said he also expected the new Bush administration to instruct the new attorney general to reinterpret the Controlled Substances Act to invalidate the Oregon law.
Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act first was approved by voters in 1994, and at least 43 terminally ill people have used it to end their lives with a lethal dose of barbiturates prescribed by a doctor since it cleared the final legal hurdles and took effect in October 1997.
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