Return to www.pccef.org

 

The Oregonian Guest Opinion Article, Sept. 24, 2008 –

“Assisted Suicide: Conspiracy and Control” - Stevens & Toffler

 

Documentation for information in the article: by Kenneth Stevens, M.D.

 

Compassion & Choices Organization

  • Members authored law:  Barbara Coombs Lee’s many comments about authoring the law.
  • Compassion & Choices correspondence:  “Compassion & Choices of Oregon is honored to be the stewards of Oregon’s law.”
  • Call it their law; a C & C newsletter article refers to “our law” six times – Compassion and Choices of Oregon Newsletter, Dec. 2005.
  • “In 2005, Compassion and Choices reported that they had given information to or assisted 180 of the 246 (73%) persons who died of PAD under Oregon’s law”.  Compassion and Choices. Available at: http://wwwcompassionandchoices.org. accessed Sept 7, 2007, reported by Ganzini, et in “Why Oregon Patients Request Assisted Death: Family Members’ Views”, J. Gen Intern Med 23(2):154-7, published online Dec. 15, 2007, printed Feb. 2008.
  • “Compassion in Dying of Oregon, an advocacy group that favors assisted suicide, had two representatives at Prueitt’s bedside.  The group has participated in more than three-quarters of the state’s cases of doctor-assisted suicide.” Article by Don Colburn, “Pharmacy Board will review failed assisted suicide”, regarding David Prueitt’s failed suicide, The Oregonian, March 10, 2005.
  • Dr. Nancy Crumpacker , Compassion & Choices Medical Director – more than 100 doctor-assisted suicides.  “Crumpacker was not present when Prueitt took the overdose, but she visited him after he woke up nearly three days later.  As a medical consultant for Compassion in Dying since 1998, she has participated directly or indirectly in more than 100 doctor-assisted suicides.”  The Oregonian, March 10, 2005.  “Pharmacy Board will review failed assisted suicide” by Don Colburn.   www.oregonlive.com

Dr. Nancy Crumpacker was the Compassion & Choices “Volunteer of the Decade Awardee” at the organization’s fundraiser dinner on October 2, 2007.

From October 31, 2007 email from George Eighmey to Donna Casey and others

  • Dr. Peter Goodwin – involvement in over forty “aid-in-dying” patients.

“My own ongoing involvement with over forty such [aid-in-dying] patients has shown them to be decisive, rational, fully informed about alternative treatment options, and determined to maintain control over the manner and time of their death.”

Kentucky Medical Journal, “The Role of Psychiatrists” by Peter A. Rasmussen, M.D., Compassion Board Member, reprinted in Compassion and Choices of Oregon newsletter, June 2006, page 3.

  • George Eighmey, JD, Executive Director Compassion in Dying / Compassion & Choices of Oregon – 25th doctor-assisted suicide he had attended as of April 2004.

“If you drink this, you will die,” George Eighmey told Karen Janoch, showing her a Pyrex measuring cup that held 90 capsules of Seconal dissolved in water”. [which Mr. Eighmey had prepared, photo shows his hands with Seconal capsules and Pyrex cup].

“At 8:15 Mr. Eighmey called the doctor who had prescribed the lethal drugs and asked him to call the coroner.  It was the 25th doctor-assisted suicide he had attended.”

New York Times, June 1, 2004. “A Woman Ends Her Life Among Her Friends” by James Estrin. [Karen Janoch died on April 7, 2004]              

[On this same June 1, 2004 New York Times page is a photo of Portland’s Lavelle Svart with a statement that she had registered for Oregon’s assisted suicides; this was about 40 months before her assisted suicide death.  So was she “terminal” for 40 months?]

Oregon DHS PAS Deaths:   171 from 1998 to 2003

  • George Eighmey JD, Executive Director, Compassion in Dying / Compassion & Choices of Oregon – he had attended more than three dozen PAS deaths as of September 2007.

“Eighmey stood by her [Lovelle Svart] bedside.  He has attended more than three dozen deaths of this kind.” [she died on Sept. 28, 2007]  The Oregonian, September 30, 2007. “She chose it all on the day she died” by Don Colburn, staff writer. 

  • [Comment by Kenneth Stevens: This was an “exit party” similar to Karen Janoch’s 2004 “exit party”, with news media from The Oregonian present and photographing, videotaping and recording.  Lovelle Svart was not facing an impending or imminent death, except for that caused by the drug overdose that she took.  She danced the polka that afternoon at her “exit party”.  George Eighmey was at her bedside talking with her as she took the lethal drugs, he is an attorney, he is not a doctor.]

Oregon DHS PAS Deaths: 292 from 1998 to 2006, 341 from 1998 to 2007.

 

  • “In August [2006], [attorneys] Barbara Coombs Lee and I [George Eighmey, and other attorneys] met with members from the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) to present our case for using value-neutral language when referring to the process under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.  We requested DHS change the term it uses when referring to the Death with Dignity Act from ‘physician assisted suicide’ (PAS) to a more neutral term.  We argued that the term PAS is value-laden and negatively biased language perpetuating misunderstanding of Oregon law and policy.  Research indicates the term “suicide”, when applied to the choice of a terminally ill patient to hasten impending death, results in significantly less support than euthanasia, when the euthanasia question is asked in value-neutral terms. Within months after Compassion representatives met with DHS personnel DHS issued a statement that they would no longer use the term ‘physician-assisted suicide’ and that hereafter they would refer to the process as ‘people who use Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act’.  We are asking the legislature to officially change it to ‘aid-in-dying’.” Source and Date: George Eighmey, Executive Director’s Page, Compassion and Choices of Oregon  Newsletter, December 2006 Issue.

 

What about assisted suicide causing improved end-of-life care in Oregon?

 

Oregon ranks 9th (not 1st) in Medicare-age hospice-utilization:  

This information is from an American Medical News article, “Oregon still stands alone: 10 year of physician-assisted suicide” written by Kevin B. O’Reilly, May 12, 2008.                                    http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/05/12/prsa0512.htm
The article includes the following:

“Hospice care grows, but unevenly”

“Since Medicare began reimbursing hospice services in 1982, the number of patients choosing this end-of-life care option has grown steadily. One in three Americans now dies under the care of a hospice program, and the number of programs has grown almost 50% since 1997. In Oregon, overall hospice use has jumped 84% since the use of the Death With Dignity Act in 1998. Nearly six in 10 dying Medicare-age patients there received hospice care in 2005, the most recent year for which data are available. Oregon Oregon placed ninth among states on hospice utilization in 2005.”

 

1998 rate

2005 rate

Top five states for hospice utilization

Utah

23%

82%

Arizona

46%

78%

Oklahoma

29%

74%

Alabama

27%

72%

Mississippi

18%

67%

Bottom five

New York

17%

28%

Wyoming

12%

27%

Hawaii

20%

27%

District of Columbia

14%

24%

Alaska

6%

21%

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data on hospice patients served and deaths of patients 65 and older, 1998 and 2005, provided by Stephen R. Connor, PhD, of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; Additional research by Adam Scheffler, AMNews correspondent

ASSISTED SUICIDE LAWS STATE BY STATE
http://www.euthanasia.com/bystate.html

Currently, 35 STATES have statutes explicitly criminalizing assisted suicide :

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin

NINE states criminalize assisted suicide through common law:

Alabama, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia

THREE states have abolished the common law of crimes and do not have statutes criminalizing assisted suicide :

North Carolina, Utah, Wyoming

In Ohio, that state's supreme court ruled in October 1996 that assisted suicide is not a crime.

In Virginia, there is no real clear case law on assisted suicide , nor is there is a statute criminalizing the act, although there is a statute which imposes civil sanctions on persons assisting in a suicide.

Only Oregon permits physician- assisted suicide.

Source: Associated Press. Provided by Infonet List

 

 

Regarding  Wisconsin Pain & Policy Study Group evaluations www.painpolicy.wisc.edu , The grades for Washington and Oregon by year are:

 

Years                         2000                    2003                   2006                   2007                    2008                                                                                  

Oregon                C+                  C+                B+                B+                A

Washington            B                   B                 B                  B                  B+

 

It is note-worthy that for the years 2000 and 2003, Oregon ranked below the state of Washington.  Remember that assisted suicide was legalized in Oregon in 1994 and became operational in 1998, many years prior to 2000 and 2003.

 

In 2004, OHSU researchers reported that pain management had deteriorated in Oregon. After fours years of assisted suicide in Oregon (from June 2000 to March 2002), there were almost twice as many dying patients in moderate or severe pain or distress, as there had been prior to Oregon's assisted suicide law being used. (Fromme, Tilden, Drach, Tolle. Increased family reports of pain or distress in dying Oregonians: 1996 to 2002. J Palliative Med 2004;7:431-442)                                                      [Assisted suicide proponents falsely blame the increase in pain or distress on Attorney General Ashcroft’s directive of November 2001.  Which is ludicrous, since this study collected data from June 2000 to February 2002.  Eighteen of the twenty-two months of the study occurred prior to Ashcroft’s directive. I repeat, blaming the Ashcroft directive is ludicrous.  There is no evidence of an “Ashcroft- effect”, and if there was, it would only have affected data from four of the twenty-two months of this study.]

 


© All Rights Reserved
Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation