In the news publication On the Level, Rush reported that the Hemlock Society has helped put in place physician-aid-in-dying laws in seven states, including Oregon. After being a law two years in Oregon, the Oregon Health Division (OHD) issued a report that had some unreliable and incomplete information, according to the OHD itself. All the data came from physicians and a family member chosen by a physician. Since doctors have an incentive to hide abuses, data was suspect.
The report stated that the annual number of assisted death rose from 16 to 27. Only 37% of patients were tested for mental competency. Thirty-one percent got a lethal prescription from the first physician they approached,. Three patients took more than 11 hours to die; one took 26 hours to die.
According to physicians, the reason for death was loss of autonomy and decreasing ability to participate in enjoyable activities (81%); pain that was getting worse was given as a reason by 26% of the surveyed population. Almost half of the patients said they wanted to commit suicide because they were a burden to friends and family, according to family reports. Oregon's Medicaid program funds assisted suicide.
The report can be seen in the February 24, 2000 New England Journal article by A. Sullivan and more information can be found through On the Level, League of Human Dignity, 1701 P Street, Lincoln, NE 68508. #395
Rush, W. L. (2000, July/August). Oregon's Death With Dignity's Act's second year: The terrible twos?questionable data, unsettling drift. Lincoln, NE: League of Human Dignity.