OregonThe Oregon Death with Dignity Act (ODDA) started in 1997, and is often cited as a law without problems. Oregon has kept statistics about the people who dies using physician assisted suicide for every year since the law was passed. Annual Reports on the Oregon Death With Dignity Act are available for anyone to see.
“Some people may ask why disabled people are speaking out about problems with a proposal that’s supposed to be about terminal illness,” said Kelly, “but when you look at the reasons Oregon reports for giving lethal prescriptions, it’s mainly about the social and emotional issues of becoming disabled, like depending on others and feeling like a burden.”
What's Happening in Oregon?In 2010, Dr. David Jeffrey and Madeleine Teahy of Living and Dying Well (UK) studied reports (see Annual Reports above) from 1998 - 2009 by the Oregon Public Health Division. They detailed their concerns based on this data in What's Happening in Oregon?
- Doctor Shopping - Evidence shows that many participants have to approach multiple physicians...While there is nothing unlawful in such ‘doctor shopping’, it can lead in some cases to applicants for physician-assisted suicide being assessed by doctors who have no long experience of them as patients."
- Referrals for Counseling - "Five (31%) of the 16 PAS deaths in 1998 had been the subject of referrals for psychiatric counselling; in 1999 10 of the 27 PAS deaths in that year (37%) had been so referred. Thereafter a downward trend seems to have set in: by 2009, none of the 59 people who took their own lives under the terms of the ODDA had been so referred."..."Whatever the explanation, independent research carried out in 2008 suggests that some applicants with clinical depression are being given lethal drugs to end their lives without prior psychiatric assessment...They concluded that “the current practice of the Death with Dignity Act in Oregon may not adequately protect all mentally ill patients”.
- Licensing Issues - "The Act licenses physicians who are willing to do so to provide lethal drugs to persons who meet the qualifying criteria. It does not, however, contain any safeguards to ensure that those drugs, once they have been issued, are used as intended – i.e. for conscious and willing self-administration by the person concerned. The physician is not required to be present when the drugs are taken"