PRESS RELEASE - September 13, 2000
MOYERS SPECIAL SOFT SELLS OREGON ASSISTED
Last night's episode of a Bill Moyers special soft
sells Oregon assisted suicide, overlooks documented
abuses, and over emphasizes unsubstantiated benefits.
The third section of a PBS special, "On Our Own Terms," discusses
Oregon assisted suicide but fails to mention its
Moyers ignores the fact that the first reported
case of assisted suicide in Oregon was a woman diagnosed
as depressed.(1) Yet, she was given assisted suicide
through an assisted-suicide activist group without
adequate treatment of her depression.
Moyers ignores the fact that an Oregon HMO has admitted
it fully funds assisted suicide while it caps in-home
palliative care (hospice) at a mere $1,000.(2) Letting
Oregon HMOs restrict hospice funding is a far cry
from good palliative care.
Moyers ignores the fact that Kate Cheney's psychiatrist
determined she lacked competence due to dementia
and was under pressure from her family; so, she was
not eligible for assisted suicide. Yet, Kaiser Permanente
HMO(3) simply obtained a competing mental health
opinion and gave her assisted suicide anyway.
Moyers ignores the fact that Oregon Health Division
reports failed to reveal known lingering cases of
assisted suicide.(4) Failed overdoses of more than
90 pills of dangerous federally controlled substances
are a far cry from good palliative care.
Contrary to Moyers's claim, there has been no significant
ranking change for Oregon in per capita morphine
use from 1990 to 2000, as documented by readily available
DEA data. Physicians for Compassionate Care has repeatedly
used this data to dispute false claims that Oregon
may have somehow reached the "highest per capita
use of morphine," which in fact it has not for any
year since assisted suicide was introduced.
Assisted suicide, far from leading to better palliative
care in Oregon, has led to assisted suicide for the
depressed, assisted suicide for demented individuals
in HMOs, lingering suicide attempts, and assisted
suicide being funded by HMOs which restrict funding
for palliative care. What vulnerable patients need
is good pain treatment and palliative care, as encouraged
by the Nickles/Lieberman Pain Relief Promotion Act,
not lethal overdoses. Moyers's failure in accurate
and complete reporting results in a dangerous and
misleading soft sell for assisted suicide, which
endangers improvement of pain treatment and palliative
care in the entire country.
For further information call:
N. Gregory Hamilton, M.D. (503) 226-0558
1. Foley, K. & Hendin,
H. The Oregon report: Don't ask, don't tell. Hastings
Center Report, 5/99.
2. Hamilton, N.G. Testimony to US House Judiciary
Subcommittee on the Constitution, 6/24/99.
3. Barnett, E. Is Mom capable of choosing to die?
4. Hamilton, C.A. The Oregon report: What's hiding
behind the numbers? Brainstorm, 3/00.
Physicians for Compassionate Care
P.O. Box 6042 Portland, Oregon 97228
Fax (503) 533-0429;
Affirming an Ethic that All Human Life is Inherently