Last week a bill, which has been ignored by traditional media and whose gravity is unbeknownst to many Oregonians, passed out of the Oregon State Senate with a vote of 17-13. Titled, “Relating to healthcare decisions; prescribing an effective date,” Senate Bill 494 appears to merely be an update to the current advanced directive, which is a legal document that permits an Oregon citizen to appoint a representative to carry out the end-of-life medical decisions that the patient has chosen if he or she is incapacitated and unable to make such a decision.
However, SB 494 is far from harmless. The bill has the potential to allow the starving and dehydration of mentally incapacitated patients, (i.e. Alzheimer’s and Dementia) against their will by emitting an important statue, ORS 127.531, which helps to prevent any unauthorized actions and abusive steps that could be taken by health representatives through the current advanced directive form.
Colm Willis, an attorney with Lynch Conger McLane LLP, in his testimony against the bill before the Senate Rules Committee, stated: “The form interacts with ORS 127.540 and other sections of the statue to ensure that an incapable person’s life is not ended without his or her explicit consent, unless he or she is in one of four statutorily defined end of life situations.”
This safeguard is removed in the proposed bill. Instead of the form articulating that a citizens’ representative cannot make end of life decisions without expressly-stated consent, the form would allow the representative to deny life-sustaining treatments unless the patient expressly stated that he or she should not. Willis notes that “This creates a situation where your intentions when filling out the advance directive may not be reflected in the decisions that are made for you once you can no longer make decisions for yourself.” In other words, health care representatives in the future could be permitted to dictate the premature deaths of elderly patients who could perhaps still make basic decisions on matters such as food and water.
The sponsor of SB 494, Democratic Senator Floyd Prozanski, along with his fellow party members (excluding Betsy Johnson, who voted against) and Republican Senator Jeff Kruse, chose to ignore the warnings of the Republican legislators who voted “no”. He stated that SB 494 merely updated the confusing language of the current form; it allowed for citizens to express their values about the end of life; and it made room for “patients’ autonomy” at the end of life to be expressed. When addressing the concerns raised right before the Senate voted on the bill, he merely stated that the worries were irrelevant and, if citizens were worried, they could simply opt out of the advanced directive form.
SB 494 is long and complicated in its entirety, which may have led to a misunderstanding by some legislators of the implications of the bill. Critics contend that this was intentional. Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, stated: “This bill, written in a deceiving manner, has as its goal to save money at the expense of starving and dehydrating dementia and mentally ill patients to death.”
SB 494 is now in the State House of Representatives for possible consideration. The bill must be passed out of the Legislature by July 10th, the constitutionally mandated end of legislative session, and signed by the Governor in order for it to become law.
Today at noon a moment of silence was held for those who gave their lives defending two teenage girls from a vicious attack.
A week ago today, Jeremy Christian killed two men and injured one other on a MAX train in Portland. Christian had been spewing hateful, anti-muslim words at two young women–one wearing a hijab.
Three men–Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, and Micha Fletcher–had stepped forward in defense of the women and were attacked by Christian. The assailant pulled a knife on the three victims, slashing them each in the neck. Best died on the scene and Namkai Meche died later in a hospital. Fletcher survived the attack and is recovering from his wound. The two girls escaped without any physical harm.
Today the victims were honored as heroes for their sacrifice to defend the lives of two others. All MAX buses and trains were halted and Governor Kate Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of these men.
Last week’s attack garnered national attention not just because of the heroism of these men but because of the hate speech that caused the victims to come to the defense of the young women in the first place. The President of the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard commented that, “For [the two women] as a new immigrant family, it brings for them a lot of memories of violence and war and the reason they’re here.”
Through their actions and deaths, the heroism of the MAX attack victims sent a powerful message against hate and in defense of life.
Apollo, a rambunctious young pit bull, was abandoned and delivered to an animal shelter in Washington State. He was kept there for six months without finding a new home, and because of his unusually high energy level that was considered incompatible with adoption, the animal shelter eventually made the choice to euthanize the dog.
However, one last call was made to a Washington state narcotics K-9 trainer to see if Apollo was possibly suited for detection work. The trainer made the time to visit the animal shelter and run the pit bull through a series of tests; she concluded that Apollo was an excellent candidate for detective work. As a result, Apollo was placed in a new home at the Department of Corrections (DOC). Unfortunately, he had to wait twelve months while numerous dogs were chosen over him to begin training. The Tukwila Police Department speculated on its Facebook page that the reason he was not chosen was due to the widespread stigma against pit bulls, “who often have bad reputations based on misconceptions and lack of training.”
Thankfully, the trainer did recommend Apollo to the Tukwila Police Department in the summer of 2016, stating that the pit bull could finish first in his class if he was allowed the opportunity to demonstrate his skills. “All he needed was a chance.”
Members of the police department decided to extend their arms to the pit bull and allow him to go through narcotics school. The trainer was right. He finished first in his class last November. Tukwila Police Department describes him as “extremely friendly and can often be found trying to get us to play with him. He has brought great joy to all of us at the department in addition to being a very productive and hard worker.”
Will Koenig honored his mother, Kara Larson, by giving to the community what she gave to him: the ability to join together to partake in America’s greatest pastime, baseball.
“She also kind of made sure baseball was a big part of my life,” said Will.
Before cancer claimed her life last year, Kara taught Will to love baseball, not only as a sport, but as a way to build comradery. She left in him the importance of community and the desire to give back in any way possible.
“When she passed, instead of people sending flowers, we asked people to donate money to the Wilshire Riverside Little League, and they raised about $7,000,” said John, Kara’s husband.
Now Will wants to do his part in carrying on her memory through their shared passion. He converted a school project into a full-scale nonprofit organization.
“Change-Up Uganda is a nonprofit organization that is sending baseball gear and money over to kids in Uganda,” explains Will.
In this organization, he managed to maintain his mother’s love of baseball, desire to give back, and work to build a stronger community. He even managed to name the organization with a pun to relate the sentiment:
“Change up, like you’re changing up a place, and change up is a pitch in baseball,” he said.
She changed his life, and now it’s his turn to change others’.
Thanks to her 13-year-old son, Kara Larson’s memory lives on in every baseball game in Uganda.
To support Change-Up Uganda, please visit their GoFundMe Page.
Two Planned Parenthood facilities in Colorado recently announced that they would be closing this summer. The two facilities, one in Longmont and one in Parker, did not perform abortions but referred for them. Whitney Phillips, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, told local news that they are closing due to the “tough financial landscape” and because of the Affordable Care Act.
“We supported the ACA because we love the idea of more people having health insurance and increasing access to the critical services that they need, but a lot of our patients were self-pay,” she said. “They would come in…and pay out of pocket. Under the ACA, a lot of patients were given the opportunity to be on Medicaid. Again, that’s wonderful, but it meant that rather than bill them directly, we had to bill Medicaid. And Medicaid reimburses at a very low rate.”
Some of the other Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains affiliate locations will extend their hours to accommodate patients. The affiliate announced six closings recently, including these two facilities in Colorado, three facilities in New Mexico, and one in Wyoming. At least 13 Planned Parenthood facilities have closed or have announced closure this year, including four in Iowa (after that state’s lawmakers decided to defund the abortion provider), as well as two in Pennsylvania, and one in Maryland. Except in Iowa, the efforts to defund the abortion provider were not the cause of the closures, Planned Parenthood officials have said. Most closures are due to patient numbers and finances.
According to their annual reports, Planned Parenthood’s numbers and non-abortion services have declined in the past few years. Its abortion numbers have remained consistent. Planned Parenthood has yet to release its report for 2016.
A recent study shows a Portland Public Schools three-week program for children who did not attend preschool is reaping rewards.
The goal of this free program is to alleviate the anxieties of parents and their children in transitioning to kindergarten. The program was launched in 2010 in two schools and entailed children receiving kindergarten training every morning along with family meetings twice-a-week. Emphasis is now placed on helping students who do not speak English as a primary language or who attended Head Start and struggle with attendance.
Since the launch of the program, numerous other districts in Portland have begun similar programs, and the district now spends about $13,000 per school to provide this service.
While the program is short time-wise, the fruits of the program are outstanding. The most notable benefit of the program is that the schools are now able to better connect with families they struggle to contact and engage.
Another benefit is the emphasis on family involvement. The study states that “the emphasis on family involvement stems from a wealth of literature indicating that when parents are involved in their children’s schooling, students achieve higher grades, have better attendance, show more positive attitudes and behaviors, have higher graduation rates, and are more likely to enroll in higher education.”
Ngoc Nguyen, a mom from Southeast Portland, enrolled her youngest son in the program in the summer of 2016 and highly recommends the program. “My son didn’t know anything about school. He was so unsure and kind of afraid.” She stated that “After he really liked it. They helped him step by step to know the rules and routine every day.”
Researchers from the Multnomah County Partnership for Education Research conducted the study. They found that, after tracking 450 students for five years, the children who participated in the program had better attendance rates and stronger literacy skill than students who did not take part in the program. Since poor attendance and insufficient literacy skills can increase a student’s probability of dropping out, Researcher Beth Tarasawa stated that the results of this program could pay off years down the road.