We have received several emails asking for more information on the Oregon experience. We recommend these excellent links from the 'International Task Force' site on euthanasia and assisted suicide, and below is a summary for quick reference:
'If any surgeon or physician had told me that he did 200 procedures without any complications I knew that he possibly needed counselling and had no insight. We come here and I am told there are no complications. There is something strange going on.' (Lord McColl of Dulwich, Professor of Surgery, and member of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Joffe Bill, after hearing witnesses claim that there have been no complications associated with more than 200 assisted-suicide deaths).
All of the statements on which the comments below have been based are from individuals involved in the Oregon situation - none of whom are opponents of the law:
- There are several cases where the 'safeguards' within the law have been disregarded, but no one has been disciplined as a result.
- The complications which have arisen have not been investigated or reported. One doctor commented 'it is not required by the law and it is not part of our duty'.
- The patient's judgment may be impaired at the time the lethal drugs are actually taken - as assessment happens, even in theory, only up to the point of prescription.
- There is no way to track the drugs once they are received, and hence no way of knowing whether they were used by the person that they were intended for, or whether they were taken by someone else (or indeed are left somewhere unattended).
- 'Self-administration' is very broadly interpreted and the lethal drugs do not need to be taken orally, resulting in 'assisted' suicide becoming a very fluid concept.
- It is considered to be unrealistic to predict with any accuracy the required six months prognosis
- Pain control has become increasingly inadequate in Oregon.
- Data for reports is based on self-reporting by doctors who prescribe lethal drugs, and the records used in the annual reports are destroyed
- A patient must be a resident of Oregon if they are to lawfully receive assisted suicide. However, it is up to the doctors to decide what 'residency' means - there is no time element during which a person must have lived in Oregon.
- Assisted-suicide advocacy group facilitates most of Oregon's assisted suicides by putting them in touch with doctors who would be willing to assist their suicides.
- The state pays for assisted-suicide drugs for the poor.