Monday, September 22, 2008

The Oregonian Editorial Board opposes Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide initiative

The Editorial Board for the largest newspaper in Oregon opposes the I-1000 initiative to legalize assisted suicide in Washington State.

The Oregonian Editorial Board states under the headline: Washington state's assisted-suicide measure: Don't go there that

Still, even though Washington's initiative closely parallels Oregon's law, we won't be endorsing it.

Our fundamental objection is the same it has always been -- that's it's wrong to use physicians and pharmacists to hasten patients' deaths.

The Oregonian bases their opposition to the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative on Oregon's mixed experience with assisted suicide. The article states:
On the plus side, the law has not created a tidal wave of assisted suicide since its enactment in 1997. Only 341 (reported) patients, 86 percent of them with terminal cancer, have died under its provisions. More than a third of those who have obtained lethal prescriptions never used them.

It's also true that the law is popular, twice winning voter approval, and that vigorous public debate over it has led to much-improved end-of-life care in Oregon. The state is recognized today as the national leader in providing access to palliative medicine and pain treatment.
(Alex's comment - Oregon is not a leader in palliative care, even though the euthanasia lobby claims that they are)

The Oregon experience, however, has brought similar reform in many other states, including Washington, where most physicians don't want to write prescriptions to hasten patients' deaths. An argument can be made that Oregon's influence has already improved end-of-life care in Washington so much that the new law is not needed
(Alex's comment - There has been an improvement in palliative care throughtout North America. There is no proof that this improvement is related to the Assisted Suicide law in Oregon.)

On the negative side, Oregon's physician-assisted suicide program has not been sufficiently transparent. Essentially, a coterie of insiders run the program, with a handful of doctors and others deciding what the public may know. We're aware of no substantiated abuses, but we'd feel more confident with more sunlight on the program.

The article concluded by stating:
We defended Oregon's right to this law when it was under attack by the Bush administration, and we have taken sharp issue with claims that the worst fears about the program have been borne out. But our basic unease with physician-assisted suicide has not changed, and we cannot exhort Washington voters to take the same path.

Link to the Oregonian Editorial Board position:

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