Mentally Ill Patients Would be Starved to Death and Denied Food and Water Under New Oregon Bill

State   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Feb 6, 2018   |   11:55AM   |   Salem, OR

The Oregon legislature is debating a deceptive bill (HB 4135) that is reported as simply “cleaning-up” the Oregon advanced directives legislation, but in fact HB 4135 promotes the withholding or withdrawal of nutrition and hydration (food and water) from people who are incompetent and not necessarily dying.

Even though Oregon legalized assisted suicide 20 years ago, euthanasia is a prohibited. Euthanasia is an act whereby one person directly and intentionally causes the death of another person, whereas assisted suicide is an act whereby one person directly and intentionally assists another person in causing their own death. HB 4135 opens the door to euthanasia of incompetent people in Oregon.

HB 4135 is deceptive and dangerous piece legislation because it is sold as a bill to update current legislation but in fact it changes current legislation to ensure that incompetent people, who may or may not be otherwise dying, can be intentionally killed by dehydration.

Advanced directives are only relevant when a person is incompetent to make decision for themselves. Therefore HB 4135, by definition, does not ensure that competent people can die by dehydration, but rather that incompetent people can be dehydrated to death.

HB 4135 states:

____ I do not want my life to be prolonged by life support. I also do not want tube feeding as life support. I want my health care provider to allow me to die naturally if my health care provider and another knowledgeable health care provider confirm that I am in any of the medical conditions listed below.

So what are the conditions that are listed below?

a. Close to Death.

b. Permanently Unconscious.

c. Advanced Progressive Illness.

d. Extraordinary Suffering.

If a person is incompetent then the person cannot consent to death by dehydration. To withhold fluids, even if the person while competent expressed this desire, dehumanizes the person by denying that person the basic necessaries of life. Withholding or withdrawing fluids from a person, who is not otherwise dying, will cause the person to die by dehydration. Dehydration is often a horrible death, even when the symptoms are masked by analgesics. It is also a form of abandonment to deny a person the basic necessaries of life.

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If a person is actually dying and nearing death, withholding or withdrawing fluids may be appropriate but this decision must be based on a factual assessment that providing fluid has ceased to benefit and may harm the person. We do not oppose withholding or withdrawing fluids from a person, when providing it has become useless, burdensome or without benefit.

HB 4135 opens the door to euthanasia by dehydration of incompetent people in Oregon.

HB 4135 must be defeated. It is dangerous to incompetent people and it specifically promotes death by dehydration. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here. Image is a file photo.