Oregon 2015 assisted suicide report - another 26% increase in assisted suicide deaths

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2015 Oregon assisted suicide report indicates that there was another 26% in assisted suicide deaths and a 40% increase in lethal prescriptions. The 2014 Oregon assisted suicide report indicated a 44% increase in assisted suicide deaths and a 48% increase in lethal prescriptions representing an 81% increase in assisted suicide deaths in two years.

The 2015 annual report is similar to prior years. The report implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information in the report does not address that subject.

Oregon's assisted suicide law allows the lethal dose to be administered without effective oversight. The Oregon law enables two doctors to approve death by assisted suicide and once the lethal prescription is written there is no further oversight. The prescribing physician was present at the assisted suicide death in only 14 of 132 deaths in 2015 creating the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent. "Even if he struggled, who would know?"

After the person dies by assisted suicide, in Oregon, the doctor who prescribed the lethal dose is required to submit a report. The information in the annual reports are solely based on the data provided by the doctors who prescribe the lethal dose and then self-report after the death of the person. This system enables abuses of the law to be covered-up. Doctors do not self-report abuse of the law. 

For instance, in 2015, the ingestion status of 43 people who received a lethal dose was unknown. It is unknown whether or not these people died by assisted suicide.

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