Oregon’s Gateway to Euthanasia
New bill would give family and doctors the ability to withhold food and water without a patient’s consent
First, Oregon became the first state in the nation to legalize the practice of assisted suicide. Now, they have taken this a step further and are pushing for euthanasia for citizens against their wishes, as we all knew they would.
The Oregon Senate is considering a bill that would allow dementia and mentally ill patients to be starved and dehydrated against their wishes.
SB494 came about because of the case involving Alzheimer’s patient Nora Harris. She had filled out an advance medical directive saying she did not want to be fed intravenously. As her illness progressed, she needed to be spoon-fed. But Harris was still expressing a desire to eat; she was able to use her hands, but not utensils, to feed herself.
Her husband filed a lawsuit to get her nursing home to stop feeding her.
At the heart of this court battle was the definition of “tube-feeding” and whether being spoon-fed counts as “tube feeding,” something Harris said in her advance directive she didn’t want.
“SB 494 eliminates entirely the definitions of ‘life-support’ and ‘tube feeding’ from statute, leaving the surrogate and courts to define those terms as they wish,” said Gayle Atteberry, of Oregon Right to Life. It “would delete key definitions in law that make it very clear that patients can fill out their advance directive and be certain that their directive will be followed just as they intended.”
Patients would no longer need an advance directive, since an authorized guardian, spouse, a majority of their children, their parents, a friend, or if none is available, an attending physician can order the withdrawal of “life-sustaining procedures.”
The bill removes the definitions of tube feeding, life support, and dementia, along with all references to power of attorney from current Oregon advance directive law.
Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said the bill would not force people to choose death by dehydration, “but it’s so highly suggestive it’s ridiculous.”
Most advance directive forms allow people to choose death by dehydration, he said, but he’s never seen an advance directive bill so focused on withdrawing food and water.
“This is dressed up as a normal advance directive bill, but for some reason, someone has a fetish for dehydration,” he said. ”It’s the priority of this bill to get people to say, ‘yes’ to dehydration. I will tell you that that is the gateway to euthanasia.”
SB494, if passed, would allow the starving and dehydrating to death of conscious Alzheimer’s, dementia and mentally ill patients. These are patients who are awake, can chew and swallow and want to eat, even though in some cases they may need help in delivering food to their mouths. Current safeguards in Oregon’s law protect these patients from this type of cruelty. This bill take away these safeguards.
This bill is deadly and must be defeated. Your representatives in the Oregon legislature need to hear that patients have a right to food and water. To contact your State Senator, please click here.