Saturday, March 6, 2021

Oregon 2020 assisted suicide report - 28% increase in assisted deaths.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2020 Oregon assisted suicide report indicates that there was a 28% increase in the number of reported assisted suicide deaths since the 2019 Oregon assisted suicide report. As with previous years, the report implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information in the report does not address that subject.

According to the 2020 Oregon assisted suicide report.
  • There were 245 reported assisted suicide deaths up from 191 in 2019.
  • There were 370 lethal prescriptions written, up from 290 in 2019.
  • 22 of the deaths, the lethal drugs were prescribed in previous years.
  • 3 people were referred for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation.
  • 1 physicians was referred to the Oregon Medical Board for failure to comply with the law in 2019.
  • In 2019, the time of death ranged from 1 minute to 47 hours, in 2020 the time of death ranged from 6 minutes to 8 hours.
  • 80 people received lethal prescriptions, but their "ingestion" status is unknown.
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The increase in the number of assisted suicide deaths is likely related to the normalization of assisted suicide in Oregon and the change in the law to allow doctors to waive the waiting period.
There may be more assisted suicide deaths.

According to the 2020 Oregon report, the ingestion status was unknown in 80 deaths. When the ingestion status is unknown, the Oregon Health Authority knows that the person received lethal drugs but they have no idea how the person died. It is possible that all or some of the unknown deaths are unreported assisted suicide deaths. 

The 2019 report stated that 188 people died by assisted suicide, but the 2020 report amends teh 2019 data by stating that there were 191 reported assisted suicide deaths.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, in July 2019, signing Bill SB 0579 into law. This bill, essentially, eliminates the 15 day assisted suicide waiting period. This expansion of assisted suicide allows the physician to waive the waiting period, and if the patient is depressed, the patient loses the opportunity to change their mind.

Assisted suicide activists have been experimenting for several years with lethal drug cocktails on people approved for assisted suicide. An article by Lisa Krieger published by the Medical Xpress on September 8, 2020 uncovers information about the lethal drug experiments:

A little-known secret, not publicized by advocates of aid-in-dying, was that while most deaths were speedy, others were very slow. Some patients lingered for six or nine hours; a few, more than three days. No one knew why, or what needed to change.

"The public thinks that you take a pill and you're done," said Dr. Gary Pasternak, chief medical officer of Mission Hospice in San Mateo. "But it's more complicated than that."

An article published in USA Today in February 2017 examined the experiments  being done on people to find a cheaper lethal drug cocktail for assisted suicide. The article states that assisted suicide researchers are promoting new generations of lethal drug cocktails. The results of the first two lethal drug cocktails were:

The (first) 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 2020 Oregon report emphasizes the use of the fourth generation of lethal drug cocktails show that the length of time to die has reduced but the problems with the use of these lethal drug cocktails continue.

In December 2017, Fabian Stahle, a Swedish researcher who is concerned about assisted suicide, 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.
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.

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