NRL News

Joke Oregon Assisted Suicide Report Published

by | Mar 9, 2012

By Wesley J. Smith

One of the great propaganda coups of the assisted suicide movement was making people believe that the Oregon annual reports about assisted suicide were meaningful or informative. But, for example:

·         They are based almost solely on self reporting by death doctors, who are about as likely to tell the state that they broke the law as they are to tell the IRS they cheated on their taxes;

·         The Oregon Health Authority has no authority or budget to investigate abuses or violations–even if a doctor did self confess.  All they can do is refer to the physician’s licensing board.

·         The documentation is destroyed after the report is published so there is no independent way to check.

·         Over the years, the reports have grown increasingly sparse–seemingly for political impact.  For example, in the first few years, it would report how long the death doctor knew the patient who died by assisted suicide and it was often two weeks or even less, meaning that assisted suicide practice was sometimes mere Kevorkianism.  Once opponents began hitting that button, the information ceased being publicized in a truly accessible manner.

Noting the essential meaninglessness of these reports, the sparse list is out for 2011. Here are a few highlights, with my thoughts in italics. From the Annual Report:

·         There were 71 known assisted suicide deaths during 2011, up from 65 the year before, with 114 reported prescriptions written, raising the total of known assisted suicides in Oregon to 595 The good news here, if there is any, is that most Oregon doctors still refuse to participate in what is essentially a non medical act and most patients haven’t swallowed the cultural poison represented by the euthanasia movement.

·         Most (94.1%) patients died at home; and most (96.7%) were enrolled in hospice care either at the time the DWDA [Death with Dignity Act] prescription was written or at the time of death. This almost surely means that most were denied an essential service of hospice, which can be as important as pain control, e.g., suicide prevention.

·         As in previous years, the three most frequently mentioned end-of-life concerns were: decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (90.1%), loss of autonomy (88.7%), and loss of dignity (74.6%) Assisted suicide is sold as a remedy for unremediable agony and dying in physical pain, but it is not practiced in that way. The [above concerns] are important issues and fears, but can often be relieved with proper interventions.

·         One of the 71 DWDA patients who died during 2011 was referred for formal psychiatric or psychological evaluation. Prescribing physicians were present at the time of death for six patients (8.5%) during 2011 compared to 18.7% in previous years. This illustrates the abandoning nature of assisted suicide.  Ideologically predisposed doctors think that suicide is rational for dying patients and then, aren’t present for the death.

·         Sixty-two physicians wrote 114 prescriptions, (range 1-14 prescriptions per physician).  So, how many wrote 1, and how many wrote multiple?  The fact is, some of these almost surely resulted from doctor shopping, meaning that a patient contacted “Compassion and Choices” for a referral to one of their associated doctors for a prescription after being refused by their own doctor.

·         This was from the supporting tables: Duration (weeks) of patient-physician relationship: Median 12, Range 1-1379. More hiding of truth.  But note, that in at least one of the cases, the patient had only known the death doctor for 1 week before dying by assisted suicide. There is a two week waiting period between first request and prescription. This means the law was either violated but the board did nothing about it, or the waiting period in the law is easily circumvented and is thus merely window dressing.

Categories: Assisted Suicide