Euthanasia Apologists Mount Campaign to Whitewash Oregon Law.A New Year's Day New Year's Day, among ancient peoples the first day of the year frequently corresponded to the vernal or autumnal equinox, or to the summer or winter solstice. In the Middle Ages it was celebrated among Christians usually on Mar. 25. article appearing in the Washington Post provides an insightful glance into the themes pro-death forces are using to deflect mounting criticism of Oregon's unique-in-the-nation law that legalizes lethal prescriptions to assist suicide.
The nearly three-page long article praising Oregon's law, written by the Post's Susan Okie, is set against the backdrop of a fierce legal battle being fought in the courts. In a November 6 letter sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Attorney General John Ashcroft John David Ashcroft (born May 9 1942) is an American politician who was the 79th United States Attorney General. He served during the first term of President George W. Bush from 2001 until 2005. Ashcroft was previously the Governor of Missouri (1985 – 1993) and a U.S. effectively reversed a 1998 decision by then-Attorney General Janet Reno Janet Reno (born July 21, 1938) was the first and to date only female Attorney General of the United States (1993–2001). She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on February 11, 1993, and confirmed on March 11. that prohibited the DEA DEA - Data Encryption Algorithm from enforcing federal drug control laws against doctors who prescribed lethal dosages under cover of Oregon's assisted suicide assisted suicide: see euthanasia. law.
The state of Oregon, along with the pro-euthanasia organization Compassion in Dying, immediately appealed to U.S. District Judge Robert Jones Robert Jones may refer to
NRLC National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Property and Oregon RTL (Register Transfer Level) A high-level hardware description language (HDL) for defining digital circuits. The circuits are described as a collection of registers, Boolean equations, control logic such as "if-then-else" statements as well as complex event sequences; filed a "friend-of-the-court brief" which defended Ashcroft's legal reasoning.
According to public opinion polls, sympathy for legalizing assisted suicide is strongest if a patient is suffering untreatable Un`treat´a`ble
a. 1. Incapable of being treated; not practicable. pain. However, modern medicine's ability to control pain is so effective that current pain was not given as a reason by any of those who received legal lethal prescriptions in 2000, the most recent year for which official reports in Oregon are available.
So physician-assisted suicide is now being sold, even more than ever, as a way of asserting control--as an exercise of "autonomy."
"Among people in Oregon who have used the law to end their lives, it appears the most common motive was a desire for autonomy," according to the Post. "Knowing that assisted suicide is an option... seems to comfort some sick people by offering a measure of personal choice ...."
Okie used Richard Holmes, who has received but not yet taken a lethal prescription to make her argument. Holmes' told the Post, "I've lived my life the way I want to. I should die the way I want to." Indeed, Holmes believes this should be the law "in every state in the whole country."
The idea that doctor-aided suicide should be available, not to escape intractable pain intractable pain Refractory pain Pain medicine Persistent pain which does not respond to at least 3 dosease of parenteral analgesics given over a 12-24 hr period; pain that does not respond to appropriate doses of opioid analgesics. , but simply as a matter of personal choice, is prevalent in the Netherlands, the European country where it has been practiced under court protection for nearly two decades. Recently, a doctor there was given no penalty even though convicted of giving a lethal injection to a retired legislator. The legislator had no illness but simply expressed himself "tired" of living. There is considerable agitation among the Dutch to explicitly legalize le·gal·ize
tr.v. le·gal·ized, le·gal·iz·ing, le·gal·iz·es
To make legal or lawful; authorize or sanction by law.
le assisting suicide in such cases.
Of course, to the extent heightened autonomy is claimed as a proper motive for the Oregon law, there is no logical basis for limiting the legalization LEGALIZATION. The act of making lawful.
2. By legalization, is also understood the act by which a judge or competent officer authenticates a record, or other matter, in order that the same may be lawfully read in evidence. Vide Authentication. of euthanasia to those who are terminally ill Terminally Ill
When a person is not expected to live more than 12 months.
Any gifts given out by the afflicted person at this time may be considered as a dispersion of the estate rather than a gift. . It should equally be made available to the college student, legally an adult, who wants to exercise her autonomy by killing herself because she has been dumped by her boyfriend.
Arguing that the Oregon law has not led to predicted abuses, Okie writes, "[T]here is no evidence the law has been use to coerce elderly, poor or depressed patients...." In fact, the official reports show that those seeking lethal prescriptions have increasingly expressed concern about becoming a burden to family, friends, or caregivers.
In 1998, 12% described that motivation; in 1999, the proportion had risen to 26%; and in 2000, a whopping 63% said they were motivated at least in part by fear of being a burden.
This finding is consistent with the stated objectives of the founder of the pro-euthanasia Hemlock hemlock, any tree of the genus Tsuga, coniferous evergreens of the family Pinaceae (pine family) native to North America and Asia. The common hemlock of E North America is T. Society, Derek Humphry. In a 1998 book Humphry wrote supportively of the use of assisted suicide as "one measure of cost containment cost containment,
n the features of a dental benefits program or of the administration of the program designed to reduce or eliminate certain charges to the plan. ."
"[T]he elderly," Humphry said, are "putting a strain on the health care system that will only increase and cannot be sustained."
Referring to people with disabilities, he wrote, "People with chronic conditions account for a disproportionately large share of health care use, both services and supplies." In light of all this, he asked, "Is there a duty to die--a responsibility within the family unit--that should remain voluntary but expected nevertheless?"
Apparently a good number of those Oregonians seeking lethal prescriptions are in fact motivated to do their "duty."
A major thrust of Okie's effort to justify the Oregon law is her claim that the legalization of assisting suicide in that state has "prompted doctors in the state to improve their care of the dying."
The article cites a 1999 survey showing "more than three-quarters of Oregon physicians who had cared for at least one dying patient in the previous year reported that they had made efforts to improve their knowledge of pain treatment for such patients." Adds Okie, "Sixty-nine percent said they had sought to improve their recognition of psychiatric illnesses such as depression and 30 percent said they had increased their hospice referrals."
Of course, many have remarked since September 11 that the terrorist attack on our nation has caused Americans to unite, to reduce partisan bickering bick·er
intr.v. bick·ered, bick·er·ing, bick·ers
1. To engage in a petty, bad-tempered quarrel; squabble. See Synonyms at argue.
2. , and to focus on things that are truly important, like family. Yet no one suggests that these important positive consequences should lead us to legalize or welcome terrorist attacks.
If promotion and legalization of euthanasia in Oregon has, in fact, played a role in motivating doctors to improve positive alternatives to suicide, that hardly is an argument for keeping assisting suicide legal there or spreading the policy to other states.
Ironically, the article fails to draw any connection between this improved care and another point it trumpets as a vindication of the Oregon law. The Post notes that there have been 70 officially reported deaths under the statute, and adds, "the law has not had the dire consequences that some opponents predicted. ... [It has not] caused significant migration of terminally ill people to Oregon."
Yet even the article unwittingly provides evidence that a lower-than-feared number of deaths may be largely attributable to the provision of positive alternatives.
The Post notes that according to one survey, "In 68 of 142 cases...., the request for a [lethal] prescription prompted the doctor to take other measures such as improving pain treatment, referring the patient to a hospice or prescribing antidepressants Antidepressants
Medications prescribed to relieve major depression. Classes of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine/Prozac, sertraline/Zoloft), tricyclics (amitriptyline/ Elavil), MAOIs (phenelzine/Nardil), and heterocyclics . Almost half of those who receive such interventions changed their minds."
Our objective should not be to promote assisted suicide but rather to provide pain treatment, antidepressants, and other positive interventions to 100% of the suicidal, not 48%--and aggressively to improve those interventions until no one, whether for fear of being a burden or other reasons, feels a "need" to commit suicide.>EN