Friday, January 12, 2018

Diabetics are eligible for assisted suicide in Oregon - state officials

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



On Monday the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition reported on an article written by Fabian Stahle, a Swede who opposes euthanasia. Stahle asked the Oregon Health Authority a series of questions. The answers he received confirmed that "terminal disease" has a wider definition, with respect to the assisted suicide act. 

I then wrote this article on Stahle's research: Hidden problems with the Oregon assisted suicide law uncovered.

The Oregon assisted suicide law "restricts" assisted suicide to people with a “terminal disease” defined as an “incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within six months.”

On Thursday, Bradford Richardson, wrote the article published in the Washington Times:  Diabetics eligible for physician-assisted suicide in Oregon, state officials say. Richardson confirms that diabetics who refuse treatment may qualify for a lethal prescription under the Oregon assisted suicide law.

According to the report by Fabian Stahle, Richardson states:
The report quotes Craig New, a research analyst at the Oregon Health Authority who studies the Death with Dignity Act, confirming that diabetics are eligible for lethal prescriptions if they refuse treatment and receive a terminal diagnosis. 
“The law is best seen as a permissive law, and states only that patients must have a terminal illness with six months or less to live,” Mr. New said. “It does not compel patients to have exhausted all treatment options first, or to continue current treatment. It is up to the patient and doctor to discuss disease and treatment options. But if the patient decides they don’t want treatment, that is their choice.”
Craig New also said patients who cannot afford medical care may qualify for aid in dying.
“I think you could also argue that even if the treatment/medication could actually cure the disease, and the patient cannot pay for the treatment, then the disease remains incurable,” 
The state’s Death with Dignity Act limits aid in dying to those who suffer from a “terminal disease” and receive a prognosis of six months or less to live. Two physicians must sign-off on the diagnosis and confirm that the patient is capable of making the decision to end his life.
Dr William Toffler, the National Director of Physicians for Compassionate Care told Richardson:
there’s nothing in the law to prevent someone with a treatable condition from refusing medical care in order to obtain a terminal diagnosis and lethal prescription. 
“If you’re a diabetic and you get discouraged and depressed and stop taking your insulin, you’re going to die,” 
“Now, if you go to an assisted-suicide doctor and you say, ‘I’ve got problems with kidney failure, I’ve got problem with pain, I want to exercise assisted suicide,’ you just have to find the right doctor.”
Richardson confirms the accuracy of Stahle's report by interviewing Jonathan Modie, lead communications director for the Oregon Health Authority. Modie states:
the Death with Dignity Act is “silent on whether the patient” must exhaust “all treatment options before the prognosis of less than six months to live is made.” 
“The determination on disease treatment — and, if appropriate, end-of-life care options — is made between the patient and his or her physician,”

Mr. Modie said there is no record of someone with a non-terminal, chronic ailment ever taking advantage of the law.
According to the Oregon 2015 Death With Dignity report, Diabetes is listed under "other illnesses" as a reason assisted suicide.

Dr Toffler responds to Modie's remarks by stating: 

there’s no way to know whether abuses are being committed in Oregon, because state record-keeping is insufficiently specific and all source documentation is destroyed after one year. 
“Now, the diabetic patient may have had renal failure and the doctor put down renal failure — they can choose,” 
“It’s kind of subjective what you put on the death certificate. So the Oregon Health Division wouldn’t know. And what’s more, they couldn’t go back and check because they don’t have the records — they’ve destroyed them.”
Richardson concludes his article by quoting from the conclusion of Mr. Stahle: 
Oregon voters were “deceived” when they approved the ballot measure legalizing physician-assisted suicide. 
“Proponents want to sell the Oregon model along with the assurance that medically-assisted suicide only applies to dying patients where all hope is lost. But it is completely misleading,” Mr. Stahle wrote. “Surely vulnerable people in Sweden and all over the world deserve better than laws with such inherent dangers hiding beneath the surface.”
Wesley Smith wrote an article on Fabian Stahle's research titled: Oregon's Permissive Assisted Suicide Regime that was published on National Review online.

1 comment:

Sophie J said...

Quote: "t is up to the patient and doctor to discuss disease and treatment options. But if the patient decides they don’t want treatment, that is their choice."
Where I live, a doctor can refuse to treat a patient if he believes, for example, that it is cost-inefficient; and he can also override the wishes of a patient or his family for treatment on the same grounds, or on the grounds that such treatment would not necessarily prolong life. Scary, indeed.
Also, can it be held that someone has 'refused' treatment on the grounds that they cannot afford it? How deceptive is a statement like that?

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