Skip to comments.Ten years later, Oregon's is only U.S. law allowing assisted suicide
Posted on 10/18/2007 8:13:57 AM PDT by wagglebee
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Ten years after Oregon adopted the nation's first bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide, no other state has passed a similar law, despite attempts by several legislatures or voter initiatives.
But both supporters and opponents of the Death With Dignity Act predicted efforts to pass such laws will continue, especially as more aging baby boomers deal with fatal diseases.
The Death With Dignity Act allows terminally ill people to obtain lethal doses of prescription drugs from their doctors to self-administer. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 upheld lower court rulings that said the law is constitutional, sidelining an attempt by the U.S. attorney general to use drug-control laws to prosecute physicians who prescribe lethal doses of federally controlled drugs.
Dr. Leon Kass, former chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics and now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said at an Oct. 10 forum in Washington marking the law's anniversary that pressure to pass more such laws will escalate as more baby boomers pass age 65.
Barbara Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a hybrid of two organizations that pushed to pass the Oregon law, said efforts to pass similar laws in other states were blocked by some of the "largest, most powerful social organizations in the world," and acknowledged that the "political and lobbying forces against it are enormous."
Kass said the "forces who rally on this subject understand the problem." The American Medical Association, disability rights groups and numerous religious organizations, especially the Catholic Church, have been at the forefront of opposition to assisted-suicide laws.
But "pressures to pass this are coming. We're going to have more people pushing for it," he said.
The anniversary event was hosted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Oregon's Department of Human Services statistics through the end of 2006 show 292 people died after ingesting a lethal dose of medication prescribed under the law's provisions. Of those, the vast majority suffered from various types of cancer and were in hospice care. The median age was 70.
The number of people seeking lethal doses of drugs under the law has grown steadily, from 21 the first year to 65 in 2006, although there was a one-year drop in the increase in 2004, from 67 the previous year to 60. Over the nine years reported so far, an average of 33 percent did not use their drugs, dying instead of natural causes.
Kass said such statistics fail to give an accurate picture of the circumstances of the people who seek lethal doses of drugs for themselves. The state relies on doctors to report their own cases, with no provision for independent interviews with patients, their families or the nurses who are by their bedsides, he said.
Although the law says patients should be free of depression, there's no requirement that they be evaluated or treated for depression or that they receive adequate palliative medication for pain before the decision to seek lethal drugs is accepted, said Kass.
"I don't know why advocates for this don't make sure there isn't depression," he said.
"Sixty (percent) to 70 percent of people at this point of their life are depressed," and could be treated for depression to improve the quality of their last weeks and months, he added.
Lee and Kass again and again cited the experience with physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands, where it has been legal since 1993, and was a common practice long before that. Kass argued that the Dutch experience shows an increase in euthanasia as well as in physician-assisted suicide, evidence of a "slippery slope" of shifting ethical standards.
Although she cited the Dutch system favorably at other points, Lee said in some ways the country is "a poor model for the Untied States. We are not the Dutch. The Dutch tolerate behavior we would not. They tolerated outright euthanasia for years."
But she said under Oregon's law the decision about whether and when to take lethal drugs "never leaves the patient," eliminating the risk that family members or doctors will end someone's life for them.
Kass said the high number of Americans without health insurance makes the risk of physician-assisted suicide more worrisome.
He recalled that during a radio debate about an assisted-suicide law the high cost of medical care and its burden on the sick and their families came up again and again.
"We shouldn't be Pollyannaish about where this country is," he said.
Because the culture of death doesn't care about ANYTHING except raising the body count.
Exactly. Christians have always believed that suicide is a deadly sin, because it is self-murder and because it leaves little or no time to repent. It is the sin of despair, a refusal of God’s grace and His gift of life.
Others may believe differently. If so, no one can stop them from killing themselves in most cases. But there is something hellishly selfish about people who want to corrupt the entire medical establishment and the health industry, make doctors and nurses into killers and hospitals into killing grounds, just so they can die a little more comfortably.
What do they care if they take thousands or millions of innocent people along with them? After all, they will be safely and comfortably dead—won’t they?
As Louis XIV callously said, “Apres moi, le deluge.” I’ll get what I want, and who cares what happens afterward?
It's a wicked and/or a pathetic thing to commit suicide "freelance" --- only God can judge in the case of the clinically depressed or otherwise impaired. But that doesn't even compare to the rotten evil of "legal" or "assisted" suicide where you corrupt the major institutions of society as your accomplices.
Doctors, nurses, and hospice workers should not be pulled into the picture as accessories to the deed, because they are, and shoule be, unalterably committed to the patient's health: and nobody is healthier dead. Lawyers, judges, and politicians should not be implicated in suicide because they're supposed to be dedicated to our rights and liberties, and death effectively snuffs ALL rights and all liberties.
I have never quite understood why those would-be suicides who say their #1 value is personal autonomy, don't just do it --- like those other 30,000 self-respectng autonomous suicides* --- and leave the rest of us out of it.
* (Hoping the irony here is apparent.)
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Another thing the culture of death has tried to do is change the meaning of the word dignity. Dignity comes from character and there are plenty of people who APPEAR very dignified, yet have no dignity. And yet most people do not appear dignified at the time of their death, but they can still have dignity. When our Lord was on the Cross, His appearance was probably anything but dignified, yet He possessed more dignity than any of us will ever appreciate.
Almost all of us at some point (and for most of us it will be several times) experience watching a loved one die. And of course we would do anything to relieve their suffering, but that is not an excuse to kill.
What is the average reduction in life span among these suicide participants? How much money is saved by offing them early? Bottom line: How cost effective is this program?
Incalculable because there's no way to know how much time a terminal patient has left. Art Buchwald was pronounced terminal with kidney failure, with a life-expectancy of weeks, checked himself into a hospice, planned his funeral and made his farewells to friends and family, waited and waited, checked himself out after a couple of months, and wrote another book ("Too Soon to Say Goodbye.")
You never know.
It's inapplicable because every life is incommensurable. It all depends on what human life is for.
If you think most other people's life are for "nothing," you could persuade everybody over 65 to kill themselves and and save a whole sh!tload of money on future Social Security costs: but why? What for? And what does that make you?
Off topic But I would like someones idea on the Thread below.
The Catholic World magazine from March of 1947
That's it, in a nutshell. But some people just don't get it. They know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.
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