Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Oregon 2021 assisted suicide report. Ingestion status unknown with 106 lethal prescriptions.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Oregon 2021 assisted suicide report indicates that there were 238 reported assisted suicide deaths and 383 lethal prescriptions written in 2021.

The number of reported assisted suicide deaths was lower in 2021 but that may be misleading. The 2020 report stated that 245 people reportedly died by assisted suicide and the ingestion status was unknown for 80 people who received lethal drugs. The 2021 report stated that 259 people died by assisted suicide in 2020. Therefore 14 reports from 2020 were received late by the Oregon Health Authority.

Since the 2021 report states that there were 238 reported assisted suicide deaths and the ingestion status is unknown for 106 people who received lethal drugs. Similar to last year people who received lethal drugs died by assisted suicide but the report has not yet been submitted.

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 2021 Oregon assisted suicide report.

  • There were 238 reported assisted suicide deaths.
  • There were 383 lethal prescriptions written which is up from 373 in 2020.
  • 20 of the deaths, the lethal drugs were prescribed in previous years.
  • 2 people were referred for a psychiatric evaluation.
  • 1 person ingested the assisted suicide drugs but did not die.
  • 106 people received lethal prescriptions, but their "ingestion" status is unknown. When the ingestion status is unknown, the person may have died by assisted suicide but no report was received as of the time of publishing the report.
  • The time of death ranged from two minutes to 24 hours, but the data is only available when a health care provider was present.
  • 1 physicians was referred to the Oregon Medical Board for failure to comply with the law in 2021.
  • Anorexia is now listed as a condition for which assisted suicide is provided.
  • As in previous years, the three most frequently reported end-of-life concerns were loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (92%), and loss of dignity (68%)

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.
In 81 cases the physician waived the 15 day waiting period - in some cases the lethal poison was ingested the day after being first requested.

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 2021 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 continues.
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 deaths and the data is not independently verified. 
Data concerning complications and length of time of death, etc., can only be verified when a healthcare provider is present at the death. In other words, we don't know if more complications were not reported or if abuse of the law has occurred or if all of the information from these reports is accurate.

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