During the 2017 legislative session, we successfully defeated Senate Bill 494, which could have deprived dementia and Alzheimer’s patients of basic food and water. With the help of many legislators, our dedicated staff, lobbyist, and many of you who called and emailed your legislators, the bill was stopped in the Oregon House.
However, this deadly bill has returned in this month’s legislative session, this time as House Bill 4135. Oregon Right to Life is mobilizing our efforts to protect the vulnerable at the end of life by defeating this bill once more. However, we don’t have as much time. The 2018 session is only 35 days, compared to the 160-day 2017 session. This means we need your help now.
The bill severely and negatively impacts the end-of-life decision making of vulnerable Oregonians. It would remove important patient protections by allowing a healthcare representative to make decisions contrary to the patient’s will. This will put vulnerable dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, who may not have supportive advocates, at risk of starvation or dehydration.
Currently, any changes to the advance directive form and law must be made by legislators, ensuring government accountability to its citizens. This limits the authority of a healthcare representative to override a patient’s wishes. However, should the bill pass, it will take the advance directive form out of statute and place it under the control of an administrative agency.
HB 4135 will endanger people who have a mental illness such as dementia, but who are still able to eat, drink, and make decisions, even though they need some assistance. They are conscious people who have the right to basic food and water under current law. This right is in jeopardy under HB 4135.
Finally, this law will change how you indicate if or when your healthcare representative can make life-ending decisions for you. Currently, when you fill out an advance directive, you must clearly indicate which life-ending decisions your healthcare representative can make. The new law would effectively give a health care representative the authority to make life-ending decisions for you, unless you expressly did not give them permission in your advance directive.
We know how important protecting healthcare decision making at the end of life is to you. That is why we have provided a way for you to contact your state representative and senator. There is no time to waste. Please visit www.ortl.org to tell your legislators to oppose the deadly advance directive bill, HB 4135, today!
It is so important that we act quickly and protect all Oregonians from this bill. Thank you for doing your part as an advocate! The importance of your help cannot be overstated.