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California residents: Tell legislators to reject assisted suicide bill

SALEM, Oregon (LifeSiteNews) –– Physician-assisted suicides rose by 20 percent in Oregon last year, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) on the impact of the state’s longstanding so-called Death With Dignity Act.

The Death with Dignity Act’s passage made Oregon the first state in America to allow assisted suicide in 1997; it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. Between 1998 and 2022, it is calculated that 2,454 have used the law to kill themselves, with an average age of 72.5. Last year, Oregon abandoned its residency requirement for assisted suicide.

As highlighted by Oregon Right to Life, the OHA’s latest data suggests that the change has had a significant impact in euthanasia rates, as it has made the Beaver State a magnet for those from elsewhere in the country seeking to end their lives.

The report found 560 euthanasia prescriptions in 2023, a rise of nearly 30 percent from 2022, and 367 deaths resulting from ultimately taking the drugs, a 20 percent rise. While 82 percent of cases were aged 65 or above, the youngest recipient was only 29 years old. Furthermore, the vast majority of euthanasia seekers cited loss of autonomy (92%), decreased ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (88%), and loss of dignity (64%).

“Allowing out-of-state residents to come to Oregon for evaluation by a doctor who may not know them and has an even greater chance of missing depression and coercion shows lack of respect for these patients,” responded Dr. Sharon Quick, president of the Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation. “They may experience pressure to take the drugs quickly without the company of loved ones, given the time and effort of travel and the complications that might ensue if they take them in their home state. A rash decision becomes their last one.” 

Quick also noted that euthanasia drugs do not necessarily guarantee that one’s death will be “peaceful,” a common justification of suicide.

Last fall, a study published in the British Medical Association publication BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care found that nearly 80 percent of Oregon euthanasia cases came from government-subsidized health insurance users, and 46 percent described feeling that they were a financial burden on others as one of their reasons for wanting to end their lives, raising additional concerns about the incentives pushing people to kill themselves. 

Just as concerning, the amount of time patients spend discussing their issues with doctors before deciding to end their lives shrunk from 18 weeks in 2010 to just five last year, with a mere 1 percent of cases referred by doctors for psychiatric assessment.

Ten states plus the District of Columbia currently allow assisted suicide. Federally, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have called for ending suicide in the nation’s capital, over which Congress has jurisdiction. 

In contrast, the Biden administration has proposed rescinding federal regulations that provide conscience protections for professionals who do not want to engage in “abortion, sterilization, and certain other health services,” “assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing,” and for “managed care organizations with moral or religious objections to counseling or referral for certain services.”

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States can be reached by dialing 988.

California residents: Tell legislators to reject assisted suicide bill