Monday, April 22, 2019

Oregon assisted suicide. The myth of "oversight" and "control."

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

As the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) my position opposing assisted suicide is clear. For the sake of this article, I will simply share some information about assisted suicide in Oregon.

In 2018 two Oregon doctors were investigated for abuse of the assisted suicide act. Since the Oregon assisted suicide act uses a self-reporting system (the physician who assists the suicide is also the physician who reports) it is difficult to uncover abuse of the law.

A search of the Oregon Medical Board disciplinary actions on September 15, 2018, found that Dr Rose Kenny was disciplined by the Medical Board. The order from the meeting states:
3.1 Licensee must not prescribe or manage the prescriptions for any medication for any patient enrolled in hospice care,
3.2 Licensee must not prescribe or manage the prescriptions for any medication for any patient requesting Death with Dignity.
Recent assisted suicide research has uncovered excessive suffering related to death by assisted suicide. An article by JoNel Aleccia published by Kaiser Health News on March 5, 2017 reported that the following occurred while doing research on assisted suicide drug cocktails: 
The first Seconal alternative turned out to be too harsh, burning patients’ mouths and throats, causing some to scream in pain. The second drug mix, used 67 times, has led to deaths that stretched out hours in some patients — and up to 31 hours in one case.
The myth that the Oregon assisted suicide law has effective oversight has enabled the assisted suicide lobby to push for an expansion of the Oregon assisted suicide law.

Oregon is proposing to expand the assisted suicide law.

The Oregon legislature is debating several bill including Bill HB 2217 to expand the assisted suicide law to permit euthanasia (homicide) by redefining the term "self administer" to allow  patients to take the lethal drugs into their body using any method, including an IV tube or injection. The bill states:
“Self-administer” means a qualified patient’s physical act of ingesting or delivering by another method medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.
Bill HB 2232  proposes to change the definition of terminal from a six month prognosis to:
a disease that will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce or substantially contribute to a patient’s death.
This new definition eliminates the requirement that a person, who dies by assisted suicide, be terminally ill. 

Many people have a disease that will within reasonable medical judgement, produce or substantially contribute to death, are not "terminally" ill. This new definition will give doctors the right to prescribe suicide drugs to many more people.

Oregon Bill SB 0579 enables a physician to wave the 15 waiting period in the assisted suicide law. SB 0579 states:
Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, if the qualified patient’s attending physician has medically confirmed that the qualified patient will, within reasonable medical judgment, die before the expiration of at least one of the waiting periods described in subsection (1) of this section, the prescription for medication under ORS 127.800 to 127.897 may be written at any time following the later of the qualified patient’s written request or second oral request under ORS 127.840.
By waving the 15 day waiting period, a person who is approved for assisted suicide could receive the lethal drugs immediately with no opportunity for a depressed person to change their mind.

When analyzing the recent Oregon assisted suicide report we notice significant problems with the law beyond the fact that assisted suicide causes death.

The Oregon assisted suicide report states that there were 168 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2018 up from 158 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2017. The longest duration before death being 21 hours in 2018 while one person died 807 days (more than 2 years and 2 months) after being approved for assisted death.

In December 2017, Fabian Stahle, a Swedish researcher, communicated by email with a representative of the Oregon Health Authority.

Stahle confirmed that the definition of terminal illness, used by the Oregon Health Authority includes people who may become terminally ill if they refuse effective medical treatment.

The responses to Stahle from the Oregon Health Authority also confirmed that there is no effective oversight of the Oregon assisted suicide law.
Assisted suicide and "other" suicide deaths.

The Oregon suicide rate is increasing faster than the national average. In 2007 Oregon's conventional suicide rate was 35% higher than the national average while in 2014, Oregon's conventional suicide rate was 43% higher than the national average.

It has been argued that there is not a direct co-relation between the Oregon suicide rate and assisted suicide, nonetheless, it must be noted that there appears to be a suicide contagion effect.

Oregon assisted suicide law is designed to cover-up abuse of the law.

The Oregon law enables the physician who assesses a person requesting assisted suicide to be the same physician who prescribes the lethal assisted suicide drugs and then be the same physician who is required to report the assisted suicide death.

By law, the same doctor is the judge, the jury and the executioner.

The yearly Oregon DWD reports are based on data from the physicians who prescribe and carry-out the assisted suicide death and the data is not independently verified. Therefore, we don't know if the information from these reports is accurate or if abuse of the law occurs. There is no third party oversight or intervention it is all a mirage.

Since doctors rarely self-report abuse of the law or even self-report controversial decisions, therefore the law enabled a cover-up of any and all concerns.
Every state that has legalized assisted suicide has also employed the same system to cover-up potential problems with the law.

If the facts concerning assisted suicide were known and openly debated, people would reject assisted suicide and demand excellent care.

To share this information, order the pamphlet: Shedding Light on Assisted Suicide in America.

We believe in Caring Not Killing.

1 comment:

gordon friesen said...

Dear Alex,

Thank you for that most interesting and necessary update summary.

I wish to commend you for the detailed, and probably very difficult work of documenting this train wreck in progress.

At the very least, we will have a firm grip on "what happened", in Canada, i Oregon, and elsewhere, exposing the strategy of minimization and deceit to overcome the first hurdles and then the unfolding of the full plan, one deceptive step at a time.

In other countries, this information will provide the ammunition to, possibly, avoid the same outcomes.

Happy belated Easter,

Gordon Friesen, Montreal