Oregon data reveals risks of assisted suicide

Published on February 18th, 2016

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

The state of Oregon is out with its most recent statistical report about how the assisted suicide law is working. The data (and it can’t be considered complete data because assisted suicide deaths are not reported as such under the law) is most revealing…and frightening. First off, there has been a marked spike in the reported number of patients requesting assisted suicide. From the time the law was enacted through 2013, the number of lethal prescriptions written increased about 12% each year. But in 2014 and 2015, the number of prescriptions written jumped by more than 24%. That is likely the result of branding and marketing by the suicide advocates, who used the face of Brittany Maynard to promote their cause.

But contrary to that campaign, the Oregon data reveals that the typical assisted suicide patient is elderly, alone, dependent on others, and dependent on government health insurance. The top three reasons for requesting lethal drugs under the law are not reasons of physical pain or suffering; they are 1) decreasing ability to participate in enjoyable activities; 2) loss of autonomy; and loss of dignity.

My colleague Ed Mechmann in the Archdiocese of New York does a great job of breaking down the numbers — and the dangers — in his column here.

The full 2015 Oregon report is available here.

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