Assisted suicide advocates often point to the State of Oregon—where physician-assisted suicide has been legal since 1997—as proof that physician-assisted suicide laws do not lead to unforeseen negative consequences and do not create a “slippery slope” toward further infringements upon the right to life.
As it turns out, they might want to take another look.
The Oregon State Legislature has passed a bill which, according to WORLD Magazine, “could lead to the unrequested starvation and dehydration of [patients with] dementia and Alzheimer’s [disease]… The first-of-its-kind bill could give a family member or healthcare representative the ability to deprive someone of ordinary feeding by a cup or spoon after they have lost the ability to make medical decisions for themselves.” While the bill’s ostensible purpose is to update the advance directive form in use in that state, it reportedly creates a loophole that could be exploited by a person who wishes to expedite the demise of a person suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Assisted-suicide advocates cast themselves as champions of personal freedom and autonomy, but a bill that allows someone other than a patient to deprive that patient of food and water has nothing to do with personal freedom and autonomy for that patient.
Friends, no one should be surprised that a state whose public policies devalue the lives of very ill persons would consider new legislation to further erode legal protections for such persons.