Oregon Legislature Seeks to Expand Assisted Suicide Law

Oregon Legislature Seeks to Expand Assisted Suicide Law

House Bill 2217, which will effectively legalize euthanasia, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Oregon Legislature’s House Health Care Committee on Tuesday, March 19.

Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1997. Since then, 1,459 patients have taken the lethal medication to end their lives. Currently, there are several reasons patients claim as their reason for requesting assisted suicide. According to deathwithdignity.org, “The most frequently reported end-of-life concerns were loss of autonomy (91.7%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (90.5%), and loss of dignity (66.7%). During 2018, the estimated rate of deaths under the law was 45.9 per 10,000 total deaths in the state.”

Under the current law, patients must physically ingest medication by themselves. When requesting life-ending medication, patients must sign a form stating “I expect to die when I take the medication to be prescribed.”

However, Oregon lawmakers are seeking to expand the scope of this bill by changing the definition of  “taking” to “self-administer.” As defined by HB 2217, “self-administer” means “a qualified patient’s physical act of ingesting or delivering by another method medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.”

Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, stated, “There is no safety mechanism in place to ensure that another person isn’t the one administering the medication. By adding ‘delivering by another method’ they are redefining the law to allow the drugs to be administered through an IV, feeding tube, injection, or even through a gas mask. And, potentially, by a person other than the patient.”

The proposed changes appear to contradict the intention of Oregonians when they narrowly legalized assisted suicide. When voters approved Measure 16 in 1994 it explicitly stated, “This measure does not authorize lethal injection, mercy killing or active euthanasia.”

HB 2217 would effectively legalize euthanasia in Oregon by involving more people in the deaths of vulnerable Oregonians.

Oregonians will be gathering in protest of HB 2217 at the hearing on Tuesday, March 19th. For more details or to contact committee members in opposition, please go to  https://www.ortl.org/noeuthanasia/.

Rob Tibbets and aunt Billie Jo Calderwood against the hatred of the Hispanic community

Rob Tibbets and aunt Billie Jo Calderwood against the hatred of the Hispanic community

 

On Jul. 18, 20-year-old, Mollie Tibbets thought it was the perfect evening for a run in Poweshiek County, Iowa. Then on Aug. 21, she was proclaimed dead. 

At no suprise her family was heart broken. “Our hearts are broken.” Her family then went on to express their thankfulness the support this nation and worldwide gave to their daughter. “We thank all of those from around the world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl…again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie’s name. We remain forever grateful.”

Despite, the fact that Tibbets was killed by undocumented immigrant, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, and regardless of Republicans pressing for harsher immigration laws – Tibbet’s father, Rob, diminshed the virulence of hate against Hispanics. On his daughter’s funeral this past Sunday, he spoke of his positive feelings for the local Hispanic community. “The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans.”

As authorities searched for his daughter, he ate at numerous Mexican resturants. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food, ” he said.

While, it is not made clear if the family forgives Riveria, it is evident that they are taking the step towards being tolerant toward the person who brutally stabbed their daughter to death and then hid her body in a cornfield.

In the period of debate circulating around Riveria’s immigration status, Mollie’s aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, doesn’t want her niece’s tragedy to catapult in the sea of political opinions surrounding the tragedy. “I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics.”

Although, immigration status and laws are pertient to our nation, it is not okay to proclaim bias against a race of people, simply because one happened to kill a college student. As Tibbet’s aunt, puts it, “evil comes in every color.”

In the lieu of hate and controversy, I commend Tibbet’s father and the rest of her family for clininging to an optimistic spirit. Instead of focusing on the hate toward Riveria and instead of treating it as a complete tragedy, it is admirable that the family chooses to focus on who their daughter was as a person; her Instagram bio reading, “it’s a good day to be alive.” In this time of turmoil, it is also wonderful to look at this incident as a celebration. After his daughter’s death, he asked moruners to join him and his family to celebrate her.

“Today, we had to turn the page. We’re at the end of a long ordeal,” he said. “But we need to turn toward life – Mollie’s life – because Mollie’s nobody’s victim. Mollie’s my hero.”

 

A Unique Take on Mother’s Day: A Doctor’s Perspective

A Unique Take on Mother’s Day: A Doctor’s Perspective

The day before Mother’s Day, The Oregonian posted, unsurprisingly, an article on motherhood. What was surprising was it’s discussion of death in relation to mothers and their children with Tarvez Tucker, a doctor in the neuroscience intensive care unit at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon.

The article began with a candid statement by the journalist, Tom Hallman Jr: “If we’re honest, many children see Mother’s Day as an obligation. Rarely do we reflect on what a mother’s love means. Nor do we acknowledge the truth that in time it will be just another Sunday in May.”

This reflection was prompted by Dr. Tucker’s writings on the deaths of some mothers she has seen in the ICU. One story describes a mother fatally shot on a stormy night, asking the nurse to take care of her four-year old son who was afraid of thunderstorms. Another describes a mother with cancer refusing exhaustive, experimental treatment that would only give her two more months to go home to dye eggs with her five young children.

Hallman states that Tucker’s reflections resulted in her belief that “the most profound expressions of love are the ones between mother and child. Hallman notes that this love is not greater than that of the father’s, but it is different since the mother carries the baby within herself, resulting in a unique intimacy that is at the root of motherhood. The moment the child is born, the mother must introduce her child into the world, “and so begins a lifetime of letting go” that ends with the hope that the mother can die with her children by her side, able to continue her work of carrying the world forward.

He ended the article by including Dr. Tucker’s thoughts on her own gift of motherhood to her four sons, stating that her sons “think she’s too sentimental, calling her mushy when she tries to explain the depth of love for the babies who grew into the men who one day will be by her beside when her time comes.” But she does want to leave them a message on her deathbed since “in those last moments, I hear how people love each other.”

Read more of Dr. Tucker’s stories in the original article on The Oregonian.

A neurosurgeon’s lessons and insights from terminal illness

A neurosurgeon’s lessons and insights from terminal illness

In the memoir, “When Breath Becomes Air,” Paul Kalanithi details his thoughts during the last year and a half of his life.

Kalanithi had a successful career. By age 36 he was a neurosurgeon and had won neuroscience’s highest research award and considered for a distinguished neuroscience professorship at Stanford University. He also had a master’s degree in English literature and was married to an internist.

But then Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. The prognosis was dim; there were no effective surgeries or treatments. Kalanithi died on March 22, 2015.

In his memoir, which was published posthumously in January 2016, Kalanithi shares his experience with terminal illness, setting out to answer the question that inspired him to go into medicine: “What makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay?”

In an article, the Huffington Post, quotes four passages from Kalanithi’s memoir that give insight on the answer that question.

  1. “The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out.”

Kalanithi initially returned to neuroscience after learning of his illness, but later left and decided to focus on being a husband and writer. In this stage of his life, Kalanithi gained new values to live by.

  1. “Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

After Kalanithi became ill, he went to the hospital where he worked, this time as a patient rather than a doctor. This experience helped him realize that his perspective and knowledge as a doctor was limited. Once Kalanithi became a cancer patient, he saw the other side of–and was finally able to empathize with–the suffering of his patients and families.

  1. “As a resident, my highest ideal was not saving lives–everyone eventually dies–but guiding a patient or family to an understanding of death or illness.”

While hospitalized, Kalanithi worried that he had become desensitized to trauma and human suffering. Kalanithi previously believed that those who were suffering “had it coming,” but he later realized that this was not true. He learned the power of human connection by building friendships with others battling illness.

  1. “You filled a dying man’s days with sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”

During Kalanithi’s final months, he and his wife, Lucy, discussed whether or not to have a child. Lucy worries that having to say goodbye to a child would make Kalanithi’s death more painful. “Wouldn’t it be great if it did?” Kalanithi replied. Kalanithi and his wife believed that life is not about avoiding suffering. In his last months, Kalanithi found tremendous joy in his relationship with his daughter, Cady.

Couple dies in each other’s arms

Couple dies in each other’s arms

Childhood sweethearts Jeanette and Alexander Toczko were married in June 1940, and seventy-five years later, they died within hours of each other, holding hands.

The Huffington Post tells their story with a video in which the couple’s children, Aimee and Richard, tearfully explain how this was the end their parents always wanted.

Aimee Toczko-Cushman said, “Their hearts beat as one for as long as I can remember.” After Alexander suffered a hip injury, his health worsened. The children comforted their parents by helping to fulfill a lifelong wish: “They wanted to go in their own beds, holding hands, in each other’s arms.”

Hospice provided a bed to place near his wife’s, and to celebrate the upcoming 75th anniversary, Aimee Toczko decorated the room with balloons and flowers. She says her mother was “thrilled” to have reached the milestone of seventy-five years.

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The family departed from the hospital, and a half-hour later, Alexander’s breathing began to change. “Even the hospice nurse said it was the most incredible thing to see the two of them taking those last breaths together.” Aimee recalls.

About twenty-four hours later, Alexander died, and Jeanette followed him soon after.  When Aimee told Jeanette that Alexander was gone, Jeanette took him in her arms and said, “I love you, wait for me I’ll be there soon.”