By Margaret Dore, Esq.
Oregon's assisted suicide report for 2013 has been released to the public. 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. 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. People
with these conditions, and other conditions such as cancer, can have years to
live. Jeanette Hall, the woman in the photo, had cancer and was talked out
of assisted suicide 13 years ago. Her doctor convinced her to be treated
instead. 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. 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. In the United States, elder abuse is a huge
Oregon's report also lists "concerns" as to why the people
who ingested the lethal dose did so. These concerns are reported by the
prescribing doctor using a check-the-box form developed by suicide
proponents. 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." There is, however, no report
of anyone who ingested the lethal dose who was actually in pain. Another
listed concern is "losing control of bodily functions." With this kind of
reasoning, we should be taking out young girls as soon as they hit a certain
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,
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
 Oregon's Death with Dignity Act-2013, available at: Link.
 Id., Report, page 2, first paragraph and footnote 1.
 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").
 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.
 See Affidavit of Ken Stevens MD, available at: Link. See also, Affidavit of Jeanette Hall, available at: Link.
 Report at note 1, page 2, last full paragraph.
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.
 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.
 Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page)
 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.
 Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page).
 Id, entire
 Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page).