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Oregon's SB494--a new attack on human life

Oregon Right to Life has been mobilizing callers and e-mailers early in 2017 against a new bill, SB294, that would raise the disturbing possibility of allowing the denial of ordinary food and water to patients who are able to eat and drink. It is fortunate that they have been on the ball to this extent, as it looks like it may suffice to derail the bill. ORTL was given the opportunity to bring testimony before legislators against the bill. But what will happen remains uncertain.

The bill is extremely complicated, and the precise way in which it would potentially allow the denial of ordinary food and water by mouth is convoluted. As near as I can figure it out based on this legal analysis (see both the lawyer's letter and his attachment of ORTL's legal analysis), there are several routes:

--An unaccountable committee is going to be put in charge of writing and/or revising the state's advance directive form. This committee will be able to make the form as euthanasia-friendly as they desire, including (if they want) allowing patients to check a box that would be interpreted to exclude ordinary food or water.

--One option that can be selected on the statutorily recommended form states that the healthcare provider will be able to decide whether or not to use "life support," where it is plausible that "life support" will be interpreted to include ordinary food and water. If a person filling out the advance directive checks off this portion of the form, the entire authority for starving and dehydrating even a conscious person to death would be given to a "healthcare provider."

--The new bill removes the previous definition of "tube feeding" to mean only artificial feeding, which ORTL fears would allow courts to decide that a person who said on the form that he did not want "tube feeding" actually subjectively meant that he did not want ordinary food and water--e.g., spoon feeding.

--The bill removes the requirement for out-of-state advance directives to be interpreted in line with Oregon law. One man has already claimed that his wife should have been starved to death despite the fact that she was eating on her own, because her advance directive was filled out in California and, he believed, California law would have allowed him to force the nursing home to withhold spoon feeding. (I'm informed that Nora Harris has since died naturally without being starved to death.)

--The bill removes references to a person who holds power of attorney for healthcare. This could make it difficult for a relative who wanted to protect the patient to do so, because it creates ambiguity as to who has authority to make decisions about, say, withholding food and water.

Another bill in Oregon, SB 239, would have gone even farther. It would have explicitly allowed a 3rd-party decision maker to decide on a "individually based limitation" on the right of a nursing home resident to receive food! This decision could be made based only on a (supposedly) good faith belief that this is what the person in the nursing home would have wanted and that it is in the person's best interests! According to ORTL, the chairman of the relevant legislative committee revised this bill to remove that highly objectionable portion, but ORTL is watching to make sure it isn't reinstated before the bill passes.

Meanwhile, another bill, SB 893, allows a person to ask for a suicide prescription while mentally competent and then for it to be picked up and administered by a third party after the person is no longer mentally competent. So much for choice. ORTL said in March that 893 was "in committee with no action," so we can hope it stays that way, but that's obviously another front on which the death advocates are moving.

All of these are examples of "choice devours itself." One wonders how many old-style lefties there are out there anymore who genuinely still believe that this is just about choice for the person involved. The indications are so obvious that what begins as a claimed "free choice" for the person who wants to die morphs very quickly into something imposed upon that person by others, regardless of the original person's wishes, based only on a vague notion that this is "in his best interests" or what he "would have wanted" in some hypothetical alternative possible universe (if he were conscious right now and were thinking as he should be thinking). See my discussion here.

We owe gratitude to the folks at Oregon Right to Life for keeping on top of these bills and sounding the alarm. May all of the bills suffer the just fate of being tabled indefinitely and never seeing the light of legislative day.

Related news: In Canada, a mentally ill (depressed) woman was recently
euthanized. Chortles one suicide advocate:

“The case of E.F. is so important because she was the only case where someone received an assisted death for…mainly a purely psychiatric condition."

Important, indeed. Important in the sense of evil, not in the sense of good.

Also related news: A Catholic Belgian organization, the Brothers of Charity, will now allow euthanasia to take place at their psychiatric institutions. The international head of the order is not pleased, but evidently he can't do much about it.

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