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February 18 , 2000

Oregon Assisted Suicide Report Anticipated by PCC

Dear PCC member:

The following information relates to new report scheduled to be released by the Oregon Health Division next week. You should consider this background when you read this year's sequel to the first report. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who may find it of interest.
William L. Toffler MD
National Director, Physicians for Compassionate Care

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OREGON ASSISTED SUICIDE REPORT ANTICIPATED BY PCC

The Oregon Health Division will release its report of the second year's experiment with assisted suicide, as early as Wednesday, February 23, 2000, preceding its publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Last year's "Oregon Report" proved an embarrassment to the Oregon Health Division. It drew national criticism as exemplified by authors, Drs. Kathleen Foley and Herbert Hendin, in "The Oregon Report: Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Hastings Center Report, May-June, 1999. "

The report is marked by its failure to address the limits of the information it has available, overreaching its data to draw unwarranted conclusions" (p.37).

"... those administering the law and those sanctioned by the government to analyze its operation have become its advocates"(p.42).

"Especially glaring is the lack of data on the palliative care offered to patients who requested assisted suicide, on their financial situation, and on their emotional state" (p. 37).

Dr. Foley, a professor at the famed Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, is project director of Project on Death in America and Dr. Hendin is Professor at New York Medical College.

In preparation for this year's "Oregon Report," which promises to differ little from last year's report that only interviewed those wishing to defend the law, useful references include:

Foley, K. and Hendin, H. (1999). "The Oregon Report: Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Hastings Center Report, May-June, 1999 (www.thehastingscenter.org/media.htm).

Hamilton, N.G. (1999). "Pain Relief Promotion Act Testimony of Physicians for Compassionate Care." U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, June 24, 1999 (www.house.gov/judiciary/ham0624.htm -- see sections on "Failure of Reporting" and "Economic Pressure to Commit Suicide").

Hamilton, N.G. and Hamilton, C.A. (1999). "Therapeutic Response to Assisted Suicide Request." Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 63:191-201 (www.menninger.edu/tmc_info_bltn.html -- see Abstracts, Spring, 1999).

For further information call: PCC (503) 533-8154.
Released February 16 , 2000.


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Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation