Euthanasia in Oregon

March 30, 1999

On November 4, 1997, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide and thus began to follow the path already blazed by the Netherlands. As I mentioned in an earlier commentary, a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine hardly set aside earlier fears and concerns.

They found that of the fifteen people who committed suicide, none did so because of intractable pain or suffering. The study also found that those who committed suicide had shorter relationships with the doctors than a control group and often went shopping for a doctor willing to do the deed. As one commentator put it, this is "rampant Kevorkianism."

Nagging the study was the obvious fact that many of the assisted suicides were unreported. In the Netherlands, it is estimated that 59% of doctors do not report euthanasia or assisted suicide. Reporting is required by Dutch law, but Oregon has no punishment for failing to report an assisted suicide.

One writer points out that "Blue Cross of Oregon eagerly began paying for lethal prescriptions" since they are cheaper in the long run for insurance companies. The writer continues by asking, "What about your penny-pinching HMO? Your hospital?"

Those are good questions. Once euthanasia is legalized, health-care providers and insurance companies will begin to factor in the costs and benefits of physician-assisted suicide. Guess what they will conclude? Right. That euthanasia is cheaper than long-term care. At first, they will merely fund the procedure, but isn't it inevitable that eventually they will even begin to convince the sick and elderly that it time to save money and step out of the way? This is how a culture of death develops. We've seen it with abortion. I believe we will now see it with euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.