Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oregon's new dwd report: "We should be taking out young girls as soon as they hit a certain milestone?"

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

Oregon's assisted suicide report for 2013 has been released to the public.[1] Per the report, the number of deaths from ingesting a lethal dose is low when compared to overall deaths, just 71 out of 32,475 total.[2] The report is nonetheless significant for the following reasons.

Per the report, some people who died from a lethal dose under Oregon's assisted suicide act had chronic conditions such as diabetes.[3] People with these conditions, and other conditions such as cancer, can have years to live.[4] Jeanette Hall, the woman in the photo, had cancer and was talked out of assisted suicide 13 years ago.[5] Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead.[6] Legalization, regardless, encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives.

Per the report, most of the people who died from a lethal dose were white, aged 65 or older, and well-educated.[7] People with these attributes are typically well off, i.e., the middle class and above. Moreover, their ingestion of the lethal dose can be explained by a desire to pass on funds to their heirs. The Oregon report is also consistent with elder abuse in which ingestion of the lethal dose is less than voluntary. The report gives no information regarding whether the people who ingested the lethal dose did so on a voluntary basis.[8] In the United States, elder abuse is a huge problem.[9]

Oregon's report also lists "concerns" as to why the people who ingested the lethal dose did so.[10] These concerns are reported by the prescribing doctor using a check-the-box form developed by suicide proponents.[11] The form is designed to promote the listed concerns as acceptable reasons to kill yourself.  For example, one listed concern is "inadequate pain control or concern about it."[12] There is, however, no report of anyone who ingested the lethal dose who was actually in pain.[13] Another listed concern is "losing control of bodily functions."[14] With this kind of reasoning, we should be taking out young girls as soon as they hit a certain milestone?

A copy of Oregon's new report can be viewed at this link: For more information, please see the footnotes below.

Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. She is President of Choice is an Illusion, a human rights organization opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia. She is one of the attorneys of record in the Montana assisted suicide case, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) v. Montana Board of Medical Examiners.  The case has already resulted in the removal of an official policy statement implying that assisted suicide is legal in Montana. For more information, please click here. Funds are needed for an upcoming appeal to the Montana Supreme Court. Please consider a generous donation to MAAS and/or Choice is an Illusion, by clicking here and/or here. Thank you.

[1] Oregon's Death with Dignity Act-2013, available at: Link.
[2] Id., Report, page 2, first paragraph and footnote 1.
[3] Id., Report, page 6 (underlying illness, listing chronic conditions such as "chronic lower respiratory disease" and "other illnesses"). See also page 7, footnote 6 (listing "diabetes mellitus").
[4] See e.g., Opinion letter of and Dr. Richard Wonderly and Attorney Theresa Schrempp (regarding a young adult with diabetes and other chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, "each of these patients could live for decades"), available at: Link.
[5]  See Affidavit of Ken Stevens MD, available at: Link. See also, Affidavit of Jeanette Hall, available at: Link.
[6]  Id.
[7]  Report at note 1, page 2, last full paragraph.
[8] Id.. The report does not address voluntariness. The report, page 1, says that Oregon's Act (DWDA) "allows" terminally ill Oregonians to self-administer the lethal dose.  Nothing says that administration of the lethal dose "must" be by self-administration.  Self-administration could also be non-voluntary, for example, if the person was under a threat of harm to a pet, or incapacitated, say due to an alcoholic drink. The rest of the report, pages 2-7 talks about the patient's "ingestion" of the lethal dose, which could also be voluntary or non-voluntary. For more information about the term "ingestion," see Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, at: Link. See also Margaret Dore, "'Death with Dignity': A Recipe for Elder Abuse and Homicide (Albeit not by Name)," Marquette Elder's Advisor, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2010, pp. 391-2, available at: Link.
[9] See e.g., MetLife, "Broken Trust: Elders, Family and Finances," 2009 (estimating the amount lost due to elder abuse at $2.6 billion per year; "family members and caregivers are the culprits in 55% of cases"). Link.
[10] Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page)
[11] The check-the-box form is Question 15 of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act Attending Physician Follow-up Form, page 5, available at: Link.
[12] Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page).
[13] Id, entire report.
[14] Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page).

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