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Choice is an illusion in Oregon

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29th June 2009

Choice is an illusion in Oregon

Barbara Wagner

'Choice Is an Illusion Created Between Those With Power and Those Without.' (Merovingian, The Matrix Reloaded (2003))

Assisted suicide was legalized in the US State of Oregon in 1997 and since then assisted suicide has become a cheap treatment option for those with serious illnesses.

Consider the case of Oregon resident, Barbara Wagner. The Oregon Health Plan refused to pay for a cancer drug to prolong her life and offered instead to pay for her assisted suicide. Unable to afford the drug, she was steered toward suicide.

For every patient who 'chooses' the suicide option, the Oregon Health Plan saves money because it does not even have to pay for comfort care; the patient is dead.

Some people think that legalizing assisted suicide will give more choice. But in fact it just gives more power to those who already have power – politicians, health managers, insurance companies and relatives who have a financial interest in a person's death. And in a time of economic recession financial interests are felt even more keenly.

The internalized or overt pressure felt by vulnerable people to end their lives in such circumstances so as not to place a burden on relatives, carers or the State can prove overwhelming. It seems less selfish to 'do the decent thing' and choose assisted suicide so that others can have the money.

Choice is an illusion in Oregon. If we legalise assisted suicide it will become an illusion here. Protect real choice, Oppose assisted suicide.


Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon (ABC News, 6 August, 2008)
Video of Barbara Wagner
Don't Follow Oregon's Lead: Say No to Assisted Suicide (Hawaii Reporter, 31 February, 2009)
A Price on your Head (Washington Times, 2 November, 2008)
The Right to Die can become the Duty to Die (Daily Telegraph, 20 February 2009)

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