The 2017 Oregon legislative session has brought an unprecedented onslaught of deadly bills. As chronicled in the February-March issue of Life in Oregon, Senate Bill 494 allows for the starvation and dehydration death of dementia patients. The bill was so novel in its deadly provisions that it received nationwide attention. Articles were written in national publications including the Washington Times, National Review, World Magazine, and Our Sunday Visitor, among others. Radio programs throughout the United States discussed the horror of what some Oregon legislators were proposing. A plea was sent out by Oregon Right to Life to pro-life Oregonians to contact their senators, asking them to vote no on this bill. Pro-lifers responded with vigor. Emails and phone calls flooded the Senate at a volume almost never seen before. Senators heard loud and clear that Oregonians did not want to starve dementia patients to death! On Thursday, March 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and work session on the bill. Oregon Right to Life testified in opposition to the bill and brought in two additional testifiers who had the experience of having their loved ones starved to death against their wishes when, in fact, their loved ones were not dying, but were elderly and had dementia. ORTL continues to monitor the bill daily.
The extraordinary number of calls and emails to the capitol sent tremors through the Senate, which had repercussions on other bills. Senate Bill 239 was as deadly as SB 494, having the same effect of allowing incapable patients to be starved to death. However, the chairman of the committee that held SB 239 did not want the same fate as befell SB 494. She worked with Oregon Right to Life lobbyists to change the language of the bill so that incapable patients were no longer threatened by the bill. Until the bill gets completely through the legislative process, however, Oregon Right to Life watches it daily to see that it does not get changed back to its deadly origin by unscrupulous legislators.
Senate Bill 893 is an expansion of Oregon’s assisted suicide law. It targets the most vulnerable and crosses the line to euthanasia. Oregon’s assisted suicide bill specifically says the person accessing assisted suicide must be “capable.” SB 893, however, allows for a person who has filled out an assisted suicide request but then becomes “incapable” (which is not defined in the bill) to have a surrogate “collect” the death prescription for him/her. The surrogate may then administer the drugs to the incapable patient “in the manner prescribed by the attending physician.” As in SB 494, many important terms are not defined in the statute, which allows for a person, a doctor, or a judge to use their own interpretation. A recent case in the Netherlands illustrates the danger of this bill. There, a woman filled out a euthanasia request when she was “capable.” After advancing in Alzheimer’s, she was placed in a memory care unit. Soon thereafter, her physician put a sedative into her coffee. After the drug took effect, he began an injection to euthanize her. The woman woke up, struggling and screaming, “I don’t want to die!” Her family held her down while the doctor finished the injection. The doctor was cleared of all charges, as the court said he was operating in “good faith.” SB 893 currently is in committee with no action.
House Bill 3391 claims to “protect reproductive health in Oregon from government interference.” Supporters say this bill would remove barriers for family planning. As is common, “reproductive health” and “family planning” include abortion. HB 3391 requires every insurance company in Oregon to provide free abortion. Even employers with religious objections to abortion would have to pay for insurance that covered abortion for employees. Although churches are not required to buy insurance with abortion coverage, it is not clear where they would find such a policy. Even Oregon Right to Life would have to buy insurance that pays for abortion. It is not clear how much insurance policies would increase in cost. Oregon Right to Life testified in opposition. It is possible the bill will pass and be signed by the governor.
Oregon Right to Life lobbyists are in the capitol daily working with pro-life legislators and talking with pro-death legislators. Even though pro-life legislators are outnumbered, God is answering the prayers of pro-lifers across the state and is giving legislators and lobbyists courage, hope, and wisdom in working against these deadly bills. Oregon Right to Life will notify its members when immediate action may be needed on any of these bills.