This article was published by Oregonlive on March 17.
John Kelly, is a director of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet and founded Second Thoughts.
Even as the Oregon-based Death with Dignity National Center and other assisted suicide proponents continue to insist that "there have been no efforts to expand either (Oregon or Washington's) law beyond their strict guidelines," here comes House Bill 3337, which would stretch the meaning of terminal illness from six months to 12 months.
Oregon became the first state to legalize assisted suicide in part by highlighting so-called "safeguards" like the requirement that people have a "terminal disease" -- the prediction by two doctors that "within reasonable medical judgment" a person would die inside six months. But even at six months, the death knell of "terminal" was arbitrary and approximate. Studies have shown that 15 to 20 percent of the supposedly "terminally ill" outlive their prognosis, leading to our current situation whereby six-month hospice programs discharge 200,000 people yearly for living too long!
The Oregon Health Authority has participated in this "terminal" charade by not disclosing how many program participants lived longer than six months, giving instead a range of survival after the initial request for prescribed suicide. Nevertheless, every report this century has included someone who lived longer than a year -- one person living almost three years after first request. Under the new proposal, it is guaranteed that innocent people would lose years of their lives under the mistaken belief they were dying when they were not.