Study Finds Blacks Never Use, Minorities Rarely Use Oregon Assisted Suicide Law

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study Finds Blacks Never Use, Minorities Rarely Use Oregon Assisted Suicide Law

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 7
, 2009

Salem, OR (LifeNews.com) — A new study points out an interesting phenomenon in the numbers from Oregon concerning patients who use its law to kill themselves via assisted suicide. The study points out that black Americans never use and minorities rarely use the law to end their own lives.

Since Oregon enacted its first-in-the-nation law to allow assisted suicides, 401 people have used the law to take their lives with the help of a physician.

Yet, of those deaths, 391 involved white people. None involved African-Americans, just seven people were Asian, two Hispanic and one Native American.

A new article in the Journal of Clinical Ethics examines why and finds that 80 percent of terminally ill patients never consider assisted suicide.

Although only two percent of Oregon’s population is black, Patricia King, a law professor at Georgetown University who has written about blacks and assisted suicide, explains that historic African-American values may be at odds with the practice.

She says that a combination of distrust of the health care system and pro-life values coming from strong religious views may play a part.

“I would just speculate that African-Americans may have religious views about death and dying and taking one’s own life that might be relevant here," she says, according to the Journal.

No mater who kills themselves in assisted suicides, a March report from the state shows the number of people killed via assisted suicide has increased 30 percent in the last two years.

The new report from the state health department finds 88 prescriptions for lethal medications were written during 2008 compared with 85 during 2007 and 65 during 2006.

Of those who received the deadly drugs, 54 people used them to take their own lives, 22 died from their underlying disease or medical condition and another 12 had not used their drugs by the end of 2008.

Another six people used the drugs they obtained in 2007 to kill themselves in 2008 — resulting in a total of 60 people who died from assisted suicide last year.

That is an increase from the 49 people who killed themselves in 2007 and the 46 people who used the lethal cocktail in 2006. As a result, the number of assisted suicide deaths has risen 30 percent from 2006-2008.

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