20/20 Vision

Seeing Oregon’s euthanasia trajectory clearly

dr joan sage ORTLEF president
Joan Sage, M.D.
ORTLEF Board President

The term “twenty-twenty” conjures up thoughts of the New Year, elections, hindsight and visual acuity. It incites me to make sure we all see clearly Oregon’s end-of-life landscape, the path the  culture of assisted suicide activism is aiming to take us, and the threat that trajectory poses to all of us.

Recent legislative activity demonstrates the pro-euthanasia efforts in Oregon. These efforts seek to expand assisted suicide which would increase risk to the vulnerable, namely the old, disabled, seriously ill, discouraged, or others deemed to be lives not worth saving. I hope you will recognize the importance of acting now, for some day our loved ones and any of us may be the vulnerable ones.

Twenty-five years ago, Oregon citizens approved physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The general public expected that guidelines, so-called “safeguards,” would limit the use of assisted suicide to people in dire situations. Many though suspected this new law was just a foot in the door to general euthanasia. Their suspicion was right. Since the legalization of PAS, pro-euthanasia activities have included finding ways to expand the law and shepherd people to a hastened demise.

Oregon Right to Life and our pro-life friends have been able to stop most of the efforts to liberalize the PAS law. Pro-euthanasia bills have been proposed in recent years to expand the law to include people with non-terminal illnesses, allow the deadly medicines to be given by mask or injection, and even allow administration of the lethal drugs by someone other than the ill individual. We helped defeat all of these bills which, if passed, would have increased the potential for active euthanasia of vulnerable people. One bill did pass, weakening the 15-day “safeguard” waiting period.

Another change chiseling away at our protections is the new governor-appointed Advance Directive Adoption Committee. This body has authority over what constitutes a valid advance directive and can make changes to that as they see fit. Our legislators’ roles are reduced to  simple yes or no votes on the changes. 

A committee like this, unelected and likely populated with by people with the utilitarian and secular mindsets, is bound to eventually makes rules in conflict with pro-life viewpoints. I am wary about such a committee. How about you?

In closing, I trust your vision of the end-of-life landscape in Oregon is a little clearer heading into 2020. Our website has more on end-of-life issues and tools you may use to affirm life. Please stay alert during the next legislative session and participate where you can to help halt the pro-euthanasia trajectory.


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