This post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds
A law in Oregon legally allows medical practitioners to starve and dehydrate to death patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s or another mental illness who are deemed mentally incompetent.
The law began as Senate Bill 494, with a vague, uninformative title: “Relating to health care decisions; prescribing an effective date.” The summary of the bill is a bit more informative, but still obscure: “Establishes Advance Directive Adoption Committee for purpose of adopting form of advance directive to be used in this state.”
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But Steven Ertelt of LifeSiteNews rightly warns that SB 494, touted as a “simple update” to Oregon’s current advance directive, actually is designed to allow for the starving and dehydrating to death of patients with dementia or mental illness by removing current safeguards in Oregon’s advance directive statute that preserve Oregonians’ ability to receive food and hydration even if they lose mental competency.
SB 494 targets people who become mentally incapable of making health care decisions, such as someone with dementia, but who can still eat, drink and make other everyday choices.
How SB 494 works:
- Oregon had an advance directive that allowed a person to specify types of care they will want, including instructions for end-of-life-care such as tube feeding, as well as who will be their health care representative if they become mentally incompetent.
- Under the advance directive law, if it’s not clear what a mentally incompetent person desires or wants, the person’s health care representative did not have the authority to end the incompetent person’s life unless the person is in a specific end-of-life situation.
- SB 494, however, removes the advance directive document from Oregon statute. The result is that an incompetent person’s life may be ended according to the wishes of their health care representative, even if it’s against the unwritten or ambiguously written desires of the incompetent person.
Gayle Atteberry, former executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said SB 494 is pushed by big medical insurance companies:
“This bill, written in a deceiving manner, has as its goal to save money at the expense of starving and dehydrating dementia and mentally ill patients to death. Oregon law currently has strong safeguards to protect patients who are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Nursing homes and other organizations dedicated to protecting vulnerable patients work hard to make sure patients receive the food and water they need. Senate Bill 494, pushed hard by the insurance lobby, would take patient care a step backwards and decimate patient rights. Oregon Right to Life is committed to fighting this terrible legislation every step of the way. We have already seen the outrage of countless Oregonians that the Legislature would consider putting them in danger. We expect the grassroots response to only increase.”
On February 16, 2018, the Oregon State House passed HB 4135 — the House version of SB 474 — by 35 (D) vs. 25 (R).
On February 27, 2018, the Oregon State Senate passed SB 474 by a 17 (D) vs. 12 (R) vote. Every Democrat, except Sen. Betsy Johnson, voted “yes”. Every Republican except Sen. Jeff Kruse, voted “no”.
On March 16, 2018, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat and known supporter of abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List, signed the euthanasia bill into law, effective June 2, 2018.
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