In early March 2023, Oregon Health Authority released its 25th annual report on assisted suicide within the state. The report revealed that physician-assisted suicide prescriptions increased for the 23rd time in its 25-year history.
In 2022, 431 people received lethal prescriptions. In total, 278 people died from ingesting the lethal medication, including 32 who took prescriptions acquired prior to 2022. Since the law was passed in 1997, doctors have written 3,712 lethal prescriptions, and 2,454 people have died from ingesting the medications.
Doctors continued to have incredibly short relationships with euthanasia victims. At least one physician knew their patient for under a week, and one or more victims ingested the lethal prescription only one day after the first request. Over half of the victims had no health care provider or volunteer present at the time of their death. Fifty-one had no provider or volunteer when the prescription was ingested, an increase of over seven percent from 2021. These physicians hardly know their patients and are often abandoning them in the last moments of their lives.
Of the 278 Oregonians who died by physician-assisted suicide in 2022, only three were referred for psychiatric evaluation. With Oregon consistently ranking as one of the worst states for mental health, greater consideration should be had for the mental state of people seeking physician-assisted suicide.
A society that legalizes physician-assisted suicide subtly signals that some people’s lives are not worth living. It creates intrinsic pressures for people to end their own lives when they begin to feel guilt for their very existence. The data bears that truth out. Euthanasia victims overwhelmingly cite issues of guilt and shame for their choice.
As the pro-life movement seeks to end euthanasia, we must also address the culture of death by valuing life in every stage — including the final ones.
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