PRESS RELEASE - February 19, 2001
ASSISTED-SUICIDE EXPERIMENT HAS FAILED
Physicians for Compassionate Care (PCC) anticipates the Oregon Health
Division (OHD) will report on assisted suicides for the year 2000,
Wednesday, February 21, 2001. Will OHD once again gloss over problems
Dr. Gregory Hamilton, senior scholar for PCC, has declared, "The
assisted-suicide experiment has failed, first and foremost, because
no one needs it. We can treat depression, pain, and fear in the seriously
ill. And as an experiment
in itself, it has failed, because those monitoring it have neglected
to report meaningful results. How can you learn anything from an
experiment when you cover up the results?"
Will failures to protect the depressed, as in the Joan Lucas case,
be revealed by OHD this year? Joan Lucas was sent by her assisted-suicide
doctor to a psychologist, as the doctor bluntly told the Medford
(6/25/00), "to cover my ass." The psychologist in turn sent her
an MMPI -- a multiple choice questionnaire -- because she couldn't
travel to the office; there is no indication the psychologist ever
examined her in person. Her kids read her the questions and filled
out the form, apparently as at a group joke. "We were just cracking
up," they said. Based on such unreliable information, the
psychologist declared she was not depressed and could have assisted
suicide (6/26/00). All this despite her having made a previous suicide
attempt! Will OHD reveal this failure of safeguards for the depressed
and mentally ill? It didn't reveal that the first reported case of
assisted suicide in 1998 was diagnosed depressed and was given a
lethal overdose anyway.
Sherwin Nuland of Yale University School of Medicine, a euthanasia
advocate himself, roundly criticized the 1999 Oregon data. "The investigators
did not inquire about complications" (NEJM 2/24/00, 583-584). National
experts Drs. Foley and Hendin similarly criticized the first report
(Hastings Center Report, 5-6/99, 37-42).
Last year, Oregon mental health counselor, Catherine Hamilton, pointed
out OHD's failure to reveal known complications in the Matheny case
and potential conflicts of interest when Kaiser HMO gave assisted
suicide to Kate Cheney. Hamilton also revealed reports of 911 being
called after a failed assisted suicide attempt (Brainstorm 3/00,
36-38), but OHD overlooked any and all complications.
Will OHD again only gather information from those needing to justify
their recent collusion in a patient's suicide? If so, the assisted
suicide experiment will have failed on two accounts, because of known
problems and because OHD will have failed to report those problems.
For further information call Dr. Gregory Hamilton at (503) 276-1293
or page him at 226-0558. (2/20/01).
Physicians for Compassionate Care
P.O. Box 6042
Portland, Oregon 97228
(503) 533-8154; Fax (503) 533-0429; www.pccef.org