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.

Link to the full article

Psychiatrist: Assisted suicide - More than meets the eye

Dr Steven King

Dr Steven King

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article written by Psychiatrist, Dr Steven King, and published in the Psychiatric Times examines assisted suicide from a scientific point of view.

King begins his article by stating that he is not religious and he is not pro-life, that his concerns are based on science.

I am not a Catholic nor do I have any particularly strong religious beliefs. I am strongly pro–abortion rights and believe that adults should be able to marry whomever they wish regardless of gender. I also believe that it is highly unethical for physicians to impose their religious or political views on their patients and allow these to affect how they care for them. However, I do have major concerns about the RTD laws. 
My concerns are based on science, not religion. As a pain medicine specialist and psychiatrist, I believe that the already existing laws and those that have been proposed have major holes that could result in people requesting death because of potentially treatable health problems.

King examines the assisted suicide laws based on their inability to protect depressed patients.

Link to the full article

California's Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?

This guest column was published by the Jurist on Oct 24, 2015

By Margaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal who has been licensed to practice law in since 1986.

California has passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is scheduled to go into effect during 2016. "The End of Life Option Act" was sold as giving patients choice and control at the end of life. The bill, in fact, is about ending the lives of people who are not necessarily dying anytime soon and giving other people the "option" to hurry them along. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse and family trauma.

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as occurring when "a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act."  The AMA gives the example: "[A] physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide." Assisted suicide is a general term in which the assisting person is not necessarily a physician. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person's death. 

The AMA rejects assisted suicide and euthanasia stating that they are

"fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

In the last five years, four states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is no longer legal in New Mexico due to a court decision. There are just three states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In a fourth state, Montana, case law gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a homicide charge.
The California bill applies to persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. Such persons can, in reality, have years to live, with the more obvious reasons being misdiagnosis and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Doctors can sometimes be very wrong

Link to the full article

Follow the Money: Oregon pays for assisted suicide but not suicide prevention for adults

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

Bioethicist, lawyer and cultural commentator, Wesley Smith, examines the Oregon policy of paying for assisted suicide in an article that was published, today, in the Weekly Standard.

In his article, Smith first comments on the celebration of Brittany Maynard's death, that became a massive campaign by the assisted suicide lobby, as compared to the near silence surrounding the life and death of Lauren Hill, who had the same condition but choose to live, continue to play basketball on her college team and raise money to fight cancer.

Smith examines the policies that have led to 859 Oregonians dying by assisted suicide, a state that also has the second highest "other suicide" rate that is 41% higher than the national average. Smith states:

A government’s priorities dictate its spending choices. Oregon uses federal and state money for youth suicide prevention. But even though one in five suicides in Oregon occurs among “older adults,” the anti-assisted-suicide Physicians for Compassionate Care found that the Oregon Health Authority does not fund adult suicide prevention services. As an OHA bureaucrat responded when answering an inquiry from a state legislator, “Staff resources to work on older adult suicide development have not been developed in OHA.” 

Link to the full article

The assisted suicide political con game.

By Wesley Smith

Once a society accepts killing as an answer to human suffering, the caste of killables never stops expanding. Thus, in the Netherlands and Belgium, doctors not only euthanize the terminally ill, but also the elderly “tired of life,” the disabled, and the mentally ill.

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

American advocates respond to these facts on the ground–not a slippery slope argument–by arguing that we are different in the USA. After all, they note, those things are not happening in Oregon. 

To which I always append the word, “yet.” 

You see, the American euthanasia movement is running a well thought out political con game.

Compassion and Choices and other assisted suicide advocacy groups are involved in the great majority of Oregon assisted suicides. Since the Oregon oversight system relies almost wholly on doctor self-reporting, we only see what they want us to see. And one thing they don’t want us to see–or to be put into law for now–is an expansion of killable categories. That would give away the game.

But, as the old saying goes, loose lips sink ships. One assisted suicide advocate almost blew this cover in an interview about an unsuccessful Oregon proposal to expand eligibility for legal assisted suicide in Oregon to Alzheimer’s patients. Note why an advocate opposed the proposal. From the Oregonian story:

Link to the Full article.

John Kelly: Say 'no' to assisted-suicide expansion in Oregon

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.

John Kelly

John Kelly

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.

Link to the full article

Oregon debating bill to expand assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An Oregon, assisted suicide Bill HB 3337 is being debated in the State House to expand the assisted suicide law.

Currently people in Oregon are eligible to die by assisted suicide if they are defined as terminally ill. The assisted suicide act states:

“Terminal disease” means an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, [produce] result in death within [six months].

Bill HB 3337 will expand the definition to 12 months.

The 2014 Oregon assisted suicide report indicates a 44% increase in assisted suicide deaths and a 48% increase in the number of lethal prescriptions. In 2014, at least one person who died by assisted suicide obtained the lethal dose in 2012, (439 days before death) even though the law requires the person to be within 6 months of death.

In 2014, Assisted suicide's in Oregon increased in numbers, conditions and demographics.

  • 105 assisted suicide deaths in 2014 up from 73 in 2013. (44% increase).
  • 155 prescriptions for suicide in 2014 up from 105 in 2013. (48% increase).

In previous years almost 80% of the assisted deaths, were cancer related. In 2014, 68% had cancer with "other illnesses" increasing to 8.6% (9 deaths). Other illnesses included diabetes.

Link to the full article