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OR Legislators Move to Allow Starving, Dehydrating the Mentally Ill

Senate Bill 494, recently introduced in the Oregon Legislature, would allow the starving and dehydrating of patients who suffer from dementia or mental illness. A perfect illustration of the danger this bill presents can be seen in a situation involving an Ashland resident named Nora Harris who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. After moving into a memory care facility, Nora eventually lost the ability to communicate her wishes. She lost her fine motor skills as well, which prevented her from using utensils. Hungry, she would eat and drink what was offered to her, but her husband sought a court order to require the nursing home to stop assisting her. However, the court would not deny Nora basic sustenance because that would have violated Oregon law. Now Oregon legislators are pushing to remove this legal protection!

SB 494 removes current safeguards which prohibit surrogates from withholding ordinary food and water from conscious patients with conditions that don’t allow them to make decisions about their own care. Currently, patients like Nora are given help with eating and drinking when they cannot do it themselves. This is not tube feeding or an IV—this is basic, non-medical care for conscious patients.

The way these safeguards are removed is subtle. A cursory look at SB 494 might lead you to think it merely updates the law regarding advance directive. This is true, but there’s more. If the bill passes, it could allow a court to interpret a request on an advance directive to refuse tube feeding to also mean you don’t want to receive spoon feeding! SB 494 would also create a committee, appointed rather than elected, that can make future changes to the advance directive without approval from the Oregon Legislature. This could easily result in further erosion of patient rights.

UPDATE: SB 494 has moved from the Judiciary committee to the Rules committee. The Rules committee is the last committee to close so SB 494 can be moved to a floor vote at any moment until the session ends. This bill is deadly and must be defeated. Your representatives in the Oregon legislature need to hear that patients have a right to food and water. To contact your State Senator, please click here now!

If you do not live in Oregon, please email your opposition to SB 494 to Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, who is the chair of the Senate Rules Committee, where SB 494 is currently assigned.  Sen.GinnyBurdick@oregon​legislat​ure.gov.

74 Comments

  1. Patricia A Epperly on February 3, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Please do not support SB 494, it is not humane. It’s also presented in a hidden way THAT MISS LEADS MOST PEOPLE.
    Thank you!

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Make sure you contact your senator! Click the link at the bottom of this post.

      • Joan Porcelli on February 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

        Do NOT support this bill.

        • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:48 am

          Make sure you contact your senator! Click the link at the bottom of this post.

  2. Constance Kempf on February 3, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I strongly oppose this inhuman bill.

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Make sure you contact your senator! Click the link at the bottom of this post.

  3. Richard Merritt on February 3, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I KNOW if someone advocated to withhold food & water from dogs, cats & other animals you would fight it tooth & nail! There is absolutely NO rational thought or common sense in left-wing government any more! There really never has been! You’re going to choose to MURDER another defenseless segment of the population like you’ve allowed babies to be murdered for all these years without any thought to what you are REALLY DOING! Wake up to REALITY!

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Make sure you contact your senator! Click the link at the bottom of this post.

    • Barbara Rocha on February 13, 2017 at 9:19 am

      AMEN – Well said!

    • Tom Howard on June 13, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Could not put it any better! Such an outrage! Oregonians, do not support this.

    • Jean on June 24, 2019 at 9:30 am

      You are so right! We kill our own flesh and blood but fight for animals. I fight for animals too but even more for humans

  4. Verne Martin on February 3, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Please work to defeat SB 494

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Make sure you contact your senator! Click the link at the bottom of this post.

  5. Don Severance on February 3, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I just read some comments describing Senate Bill 494. I am appalled! This bill goes into deliberately killing a patient who is alive and awake, but just isn’t able to self feed. This is nothing more than murder! I am opposed to SB 494! I will be following this bill and expect to see it put down, DRAMATICALLY!

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Make sure you contact your senator! Click the link at the bottom of this post.

  6. Christopher Brown on February 3, 2017 at 9:16 am

    What POS senators introduced this?

  7. Sue Riley on February 3, 2017 at 9:48 am

    This is barbaric. Please work to defeat Oregon Senate Bill 494.

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Thanks for your comments but they need to be sent to your senator by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

  8. Mr Mark Meyer on February 3, 2017 at 10:04 am

    I am currently taking care of my father who has dementia and needs spoon feeding.
    You need to stand against repeat against any bill such as SB 494 which would plan to kill the most vulnerable and needy of our citizens. If you are in favor of this bill, repent and do the right thing. Why? Because God will personally reward you for your decisions(s) either now or later in your life. Do not vote for this. We are truly becoming degenerates! So evil. Your job is to stop evil disguised as….no wait, this evil is not even disguised!!

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Hey, MarK! Thanks for your comments but they need to be sent to your senator by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

  9. Mary Nordlund on February 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

    What is next? Will we start leaving our loved ones out in the elements to die as in less civilized times? This is barbaric! I recently lost my 94 year old mother. She was not able to feed herself towards the end of her life. We were more than happy to assist her in love. What is happening to this society that is so selfish that it won’t care and assist loved ones at the end of their lives.

    • Pearl Taylor on June 21, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Is this not a form of genocide. sentencing the person to a long and painfulful death.

      can we stoop so low as to give free reign to murder. MY heart breaks for the patients and the ones who at e pushing this concept. Are we so selfish?

  10. Wayne Hanson on February 3, 2017 at 10:58 am

    This bill is deadly and must be defeated.

  11. LInda Blackwood on February 3, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Morality can not be legislated. We are opposed to the ideas outlined in this senate bill.

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Actually, we regularly legislate based on morals, which is why we are so opposed to this bill! Tell your senator: http://cqrcengage.com/ortl/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=275413

    • Joy on February 14, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Really? What do you mean “morality can not be legislated”. How and why do you think law and order even exists? Would you really rather live in a moraless lawless society? Think about what you are really saying.

  12. Mary Minkler on February 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I oppose this bill! It is not humane and it is misleading. Passing this bill ensures those most in need of loving care will be disregarded. And for what end? We are all losers if this bill passes. What do we lose? We lose our humanity.

  13. Jeanne on February 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Where is the link to contact the senator?

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 11:51 am

      At the bottom of the article and right here: http://cqrcengage.com/ortl/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=275413

      • vera and george pinter on March 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm

        It has been removed and I cannot get to it. This looks like Hitler Nazi’s are still successful in Oregon! Withholding food and water is making someone starve to death and would not be allowed to be used even on animals! It is cruelty! I’m appauled at such a thought to come into the mind of elected officials! The US Federal Government must put a stop to the madness in Oregon!

  14. Donna Pompe on February 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    I have an advanced directive. I do not want tube feeding. Neither do I want spoon feeding. If I cannot function on my own, I plan to stop eating. I do not want the state or any individual interfering with my choice. If I cannot speak for myself I expect my written directive to be followed. I will now add spoon feeding to that document.

    • ORTL on February 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Make sure you tell your senator you don’t want anyone interfering with your advance directive. This bill would form a committee who could make changes to the state’s advance directive at will, rending yours vulnerable…

    • Kathy on February 6, 2017 at 10:27 am

      I agree. NO SPOON feeding when death is near. I have specifically told my children and also in my will stated in my will/health care directive that when I can no longer feed myself that when it comes to my end-of-life care to not spoon feed me. I want my body to take it’s natural course of action to my last breath without interference of someone spoon feeding to keep me alive.

    • Justice4Genine on February 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      You are stating what your wishes are and that’s fine. This article and bill is about predatory healthcare workers who will be able to end the life of a patient, against their will and/or without their consent and that is Pre-meditated MURDER! How would you like it if the healthcare industry decided you should die for reasons that you would not wish to die under?? Informed Consent is the most important and fundamental right patient’s have to minimize their risk of being harmed by predatory healthcare workers.

      • Nanasez on May 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm

        Thank you for explaining to these senseless people that this bill would not leave a choice for those who do not wish to be starved to death!

  15. Dan Dair on February 3, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    I do not want interference with my advance directive.

  16. Nanci Keatley on February 3, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I contacted Peter Courtney’s office and did get an email reply from someone in his office. It was polite, but I was disappointed she misspelled my name. I know this may sound frivolous, but I’m wondering if it reflects the care for his constituents overall.

  17. Sandy Welch on February 3, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Please do not vote for SB 494. Withholding food or water because someone can’t feed themselves is cruel.

  18. Raymon Carlson on February 4, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Stop this Iegislation!

  19. Linda D Nelson on February 4, 2017 at 9:15 am

    My State Representatives and Senators: I want you to do nothing to approve of and do all in your power to stop action that would allow anyone but appropriate family/representative to change a “patient’s” advanced directive if the patient is unable to participate in the decision. Further, I want you to disallow any changes to the current law that would allow caregivers to discontinue providing (including manual feeding) food/sustenance to patients who are not able to administer their own feeding/sustenance due to physical/mental/emotional or any other reason.

  20. Linda Middlekauff on February 4, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    This is what I emailed by state senator, Jeff Kruse:

    Hi Jeff!

    Thank you so much for speaking out about the “immigration ban (sic)”. Your summary of the true facts is important for all of us to keep in mind.

    On another matter, would you please read this blog post by David Kilada from ORTL? https://www.ortl.org/2017/02/sb-494-starving-dehydrating-mentally-ill/

    This is Terri Schiavo all over again only with an elderly woman who is conscious! For those of us who’ve had loved ones die slowly, I know that it’s not easy. My own mother just passed away last April after suffering from COPD for years and really struggling in the last year. We did our best to make sure that my mother was as comfortable as possible, made sure that she received the love and care she needed, and did whatever else needed to be done. She was there for us when we needed her, now it was our turn.

    I’m not saying that this is easy, but the results of supporting legislation like SB 494 would be very dangerous. If you want to know what happens when a society closes its eyes to the needs of the sick, disabled, mentally ill, or the dying, google the Remelink Report from Holland which was published in 1983. This country has continued down the slippery slope and now openly euthanizes people without their consent &/or the person’s family giving consent.

    Just who should determine whether someone lives or dies?

    Linda

  21. Janice K. Nelson on February 4, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    PLEASE, DO NOT PASS THIS BILL!

  22. Bob newell on February 5, 2017 at 7:36 am

    This bill should be denied and defeated at all costs. It makes me sick to my stomach just knowing our government is considering this. Defeat it!!!

  23. Bob Jones on February 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Please vote no on SB 494!

  24. Laurens Johansen, MD on February 6, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Please vote no on Senate Bill 494. We need to protect our most vulnerable.

  25. Rebecca Lehr on February 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Here is the key statement (key word in caps): “• The term “life support” means any medical treatment that maintains life by sustaining, restoring or REPLACING a vital function.”

    As a nurse of over 20 years, nearly half that working with the elderly and disabled, I understand how important a single word can be. “Replacing” a vital function can definitely include to assist with eating and/or drinking. It is very important that we stop this bill!!!

    • ORTL on February 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you for your comments, Rebecca!!

  26. Juanita Rogers on February 7, 2017 at 7:48 am

    This is horrible, I will be praying for the defeat of this bill.

  27. Jeremy Miller on February 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Here is what you wrote: “The way these safeguards are removed is subtle. A cursory look at SB 494 might lead you to think it merely updates the law regarding advance directive. This is true, but there’s more. If the bill passes, it could allow a court to interpret a request on an advance directive to refuse tube feeding to also mean you don’t want to receive spoon feeding!”

    Can you explain this in further detail? I don’t get how this bill does that. The actual bill is long, and somewhat technical, and it has been hard for me to verify your claims. Can you spell it out for me please, so that I as a layman will understand how this bill does that? At that point, I and a few others will be happy to contact our senators.

    Thanks in advance,

    Jeremy

  28. Lila Dickinson on February 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    We must not allow the starvation of patients. This is inhumane, evil and unfathomable.

  29. Randy on February 9, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Its Murder plain and simple.

  30. […] would remove “current safeguards which prohibit surrogates from withholding ordinary food and water from […]

  31. Sue M. on February 12, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I am an Ohioan, not an Oregonian, but still wrote Sen. Prozanski.

    My last paragraph indicated that Oregon prided itself on personal autonomy and passed the first assisted suicide bill in the country. Now retain this autonomy for people who did not explicitly refuse spoon feeding in an advanced directive.

  32. Erv on February 16, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I would like to contact my senator to object to Senate Bill 494 but I need more specific information about the danger in the bill. (I do not think it would be at all effective to say no more than: “I read on a blog that this bill will allow the starving and dehydration of conscious patients who suffer from dementia.”)
    Would someone please provide specific information about the language in the bill might have allowed the starvation of Nora Harris, or how the language would allow someone to order or be permitted to withhold spoon feeding, how an advance directive could be altered, or the following definition taken from the bill could be circumvented:
    DEFINITIONS
    SECTION 9. ORS 127.505 is amended to read:
    (4)(a) “Artificially administered nutrition and hydration” means a medical intervention to provide food and water by tube, mechanical device or other medically assisted method.
    (b) “Artificially administered nutrition and hydration” does not include the usual and typical provision of nutrition and hydration, such as the provision of nutrition and hydration by cup, hand, bottle, drinking straw or eating utensil.
    Thank you, Erv

  33. Jean H. Volz on February 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I strongly oppose the Oregon Bill which would allow withholding food and water from any patient. I was the primary care giver for my deceased husband and recently lost another son who was suffering from many illnesses. I was frequently in Health Care situations where I witnessed the loving care, dignity of each patient. Both my husband and son were strong people but illness is unforgiving. These people deserve support and love until they die from their illnesses.

  34. Jim McGuire on February 21, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Easy for unscrupulous people to use this law to perpetrate life insurance fraud. Bad law. Do support this bill.

  35. Jackie young on March 4, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Oregon state senate,bill 494 must not pass we resent ourv tax,$ that hurt our incarcerated and nentally ill
    Put compassion and humane back into our state !! And tear down the old oregon state hospital in salem also absorbing our tax $ its ghoulish
    And casts a dark shadow on the way we treat our hurting citizens !

  36. EUGENE AHERN on March 5, 2017 at 4:08 am

    It is all so frightening!
    You are going down the road to full on euthanasia.
    I am afraid that we in my State of Victoria, Australia, are starting out on the same road train to direct state sanctioned killing.
    Tragically we are heading down the “Road Much Travelled into The Valley of Death”.
    This fight is for real – make no mistake.
    Eugene Ahern
    Melbourne, Australia
    eugeneahern@optusnet.com.au

  37. Constance Rice on March 7, 2017 at 6:22 am

    This type of thing happened in Hitler”s era. He went after the mentally ill. I can’t think of any more demented people on Earth than Hitler and Margaret Sanger who endorsed his abuse and encouraged it by writing to Hitler. She was also a friend of the Ku Klux Klan who call for the same action. I have been called mentally ill and have been trying to get people to pay attention to this so called community. What I have found is that and my experience is spiritual and I’m writing a book but would rather it come to light now. I’ve found that some Bhuddists are correct. Abortion and everything else comes out in our lives. Abuse doesn’t go unnoticed. I’m sane. This has been going on in my life for 16 years. I was pro abortion, didn’t care about war, not much, not weapons not nuclear weapons. and then I was shown that my grandson 25% Asian looks 75% (my ex was in Viet Nam) is here to tell us to love one another. An ex Klan member who was a leader and touting removal of the unfit, has a son with a cleft palate. Now, he fights the Klan. I have a myriad of evidence and wish to speak in a public venue. I hope to stop the abuse of our fellow humans. My friends mother is supposed to have Alzheimers’ and she is suffering from the effects of medications. It is proven because when she is taken off the meds she recovers her mental faculties. No one checks anyones brain and no one checked my transmitters. I am now what we are supposed to be pro life, pro mothers and fathers and their children, anti war anti weapons anti nuclear weapons we can’t blow up the only planet we have. A cure isn’t a cure if it means death and healing has to be about help or a cure. Mentally ill patients have rights. We aren’t alone. Mentally ill or not and the worst thing is I can’t get the public to listen and too much is happening in my life to record what is happening. I’ll try to contact our officials and my own legislators as this should be addressed immediately. We don’t know tomorrow. Children are being called mentally ill who aren’t. Alcoholics and drug addicts are being called mentally ill. My father cured his own by stopping drinking. My mother suffered depression and she healed after her divorce. People say I should take medications to pretend that actual events didn’t occur that involved people other than myself. How crazy is that? In September, I had a psychological evaluation and I was given 60 days probation for trying to save aborted childrens’ lives. I was not ordered any further treatment. Whatever has us here is with us always. We decide right and wrong and the lessons can be devastating at times. As Hitler has shown us and this would be just as devastating.

  38. Constance Rice on March 7, 2017 at 6:36 am

    This must be stopped. A persons cure cannot be death. That is not health care. One of the most horrible realizations in my spiritual experiences is that the death camps of Nazi Germany were public assets. Hitler and Margaret Sanger didn’t pay for it. Those who worked and paid taxes and owned buisinesses paid for their own annihilation. and their childrens. and their pregnant wives, daughters, and friends. They paid their abusers salaries. Margaret Sanger didn’t. Planned Parenthood promotes promiscuity. It exists solely to exterminate unwanted members of the Population. The head has to be correct in government and in religions who many, most say abortion is forgiven erroneously because it is in the fabric of our lives individually and in government. We need to review the constitution. Children need to be included and we need to send Sangerites to courtrooms to pay for their abuse. We can’t follow sick heads. This is the sickest form of abuse imaginable. Years ago, I was forced to watch a patient starve to death and it took weeks and it was agonizing for her. I used to be an LPN and had 45 credits toward an RN and I’m well able to recognize very poor medical care and I see it all over all the time. People of Oregon Unite! Send those legislators packing before they do this to you. The fools who introduced this and then get in people who will reclaim the licenses of ‘medical practitioners’ who would participate in such abuse. Sick! Sick! Sick!

  39. Velma Ardis Marshall on March 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Oregon Senate Bill 494 is a horrible bill that should never be passed. It would allow murder by a slow painful death. It is inhumane. If a person chooses to take his or her own life in this manner that is his right, but for someone else to do so is murder, and anyone withholding food and/or water from a person not able to make their own decisions should be tried and punished for murder. Shame on the Senate for even considering this horrible bill. I am ashamed of this, and also other bills that have passed the Oregon Legislature.

  40. Ka on May 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    This bill is inhumane. Would you like to suffer like this? Anyone deprived of water alone would suffer during the time of last sip to death. Please be reasonable and vote NO on this bill.

  41. George French on June 22, 2017 at 6:21 am

    If you ever watched the movie Logan’s Run, you find a dystopian world where are your desires are met. However, at a point in time your bio-metric chip requires you to die. The New World Order has a plan carved in stone in the Georgia Guide Stones. The world population will be 500 million. People are a burden to the earth and must be culled. The most vulnerable are selected at the early stages. The first major group were the unborn. The next will be the elderly. The police state used the term useless eaters. We are at the precipice. Others will complicated diseases will be selected for elimination next. Of course one of the most severe disorders involves unhealthy ideas of the mind. You may refute the state’s godless religion. You may not appreciate various social changes with the new family. Your opinions are commonly suffixed with the term phobia. Even worse you may believe in the sovereignty of your person and nation and adhere to a Constitutional form of government that even includes a right to free speech and the ownership of arms. That just won’t survive the eventual criteria for selection of incurable disease.

    We exist in a world where there is great pressure to disarm us. Various events are hyped to panic us to abrogate those rights. As the process evolves, we’re told our rights are inviolate; but then there’s terrorism. We must be safe so we surrender those rights too. I pen we can wake up before we get on the train. We can wake up on the train. We can wake up at the entrance to the camp; but if we wait until we’re at the shower room door, we’ve waited to long. The only escape then is the smokestack at the crematory. The world move at the speed of the predator not the prey. It should be obvious which is which. It is the classic Art of War by Sun Tzu. Why are we being subjected to tactics of war unless the predators in power wish to conquer us as a nation and a people. This is the slippery slope. If we fail, we cannot expect anything short of Logan’s Run. Your chip is flashing. It is your time. Fight or flight are your only options. Good luck. God bless. Our seniors deserve to be honored for their contributions to our world not starved.

  42. […] legislators move to allow starving, dehydrating the mentally ill,” one headline read. The bill passed the state Senate, but failed to […]

  43. […] legislators move to allow starving, dehydrating the mentally ill,” one headline read. The bill passed the state Senate, but failed to […]

  44. Karen Kibbe on March 5, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    This is absolutely the worst thing I’ve ever heard of. I’m so ashamed of our legislators as I’m wondering how we have advanced so far and then this.
    What are they thinking? I suggest their elderly parents should move out of Oregon!

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