Oregon Switch to “Softer” Assisted Suicide Language Fueled by Efforts to Increase Public Support

By Gudrun Schultz

PORTLAND, Oregon, November 8, 2006 ( - Physician assisted suicide in the state of Oregon will be officially referred to as “Death With Dignity” from now on, the Oregon Department of Human Services has decided.

Responding to pressure from the pro-euthanasia organization Compassion & Choice, the DHS initially agreed to change “physician assisted suicide” to “physician assisted death,” part of an effort to employ “friendlier” language by the movement, in order to gain more public support.

Pro-life organizations fought the language change, however, saying it was a deliberate attempt by the pro-euthanasia movement to manipulate public opinion.

In an effort to avoid taking sides, the DHS said it would refer to people asking for lethal medication as “persons who use the Oregon Death With Dignity Act,” AMNews reported Monday.

The euphemistic phrase is rejected by both sides of the issue. Euthanasia advocate Derek Humphry, author of several books promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide, admitted the phrase is “wildly ambiguous and means anything you want,” in a letter to the Eugene Register-Guard.

Euthanasia advocates admit that language change is a deliberate strategy to help pass assisted-suicide laws in other states. Polls have shown that people are more likely to support the practice when the word “suicide” isn’t used to describe it. “Dying With Dignity” did not score high on polls evaluating public response, and organizers in the movement recommended an alternate choice.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told the language change is designed to increase voters’ support for pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide initiatives.

“If you change the euphemism of the terminology just a little bit, you change the percentage of people who accept it by a little bit and boom! You go from losers to winners,” Schadenberg said. “And that’s what they’re trying to do. It’s part of a long-term strategy—if you change the terminology, you get more acceptance.”

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

‘Right’ to be Dehydrated Key Right to Die Strategy

“Religious Right” most feared by Euthanasia Movement

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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