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/.
Current law in England prohibits most abortions after 24 weeks, but makes an exception for babies with Down Syndrome.
According to the 1967 Abortion Act, an abortion can be performed after 24 weeks if “There is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” Due to this, many late-term abortions of babies with Down Syndrome have been justified.
However, mothers like Sarah Roberts, of Guildford, England, are working to change this perception.
Sarah Roberts was met with discouragement and negativity when she learned that her son has Down Syndrome. “The people who are delivering the news are negative. The first thing someone said to me was ‘I’m sorry, we suspect your baby has Down’s Syndrome. And to me, that message, just made me panic,” she said
To combat the stigma placed on people with Down Syndrome, Roberts keeps a blog called “Don’t Be Sorry.” Through the blog, Roberts started a petition against late-term abortions of babies with Down Syndrome, prompting visitors to sign the petition and support the cause.
According to the petition, “More and more people with Down Syndrome are living independently with varying degrees of support and in paid or voluntary work. Most adults with Down Syndrome can read and write.”
A testimony published last May by David A. Prentice, Ph.D., references a recent study that states that “99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives, 99% of parents said they love their child with Down syndrome, and 97% of brothers/sisters, ages 9-11, said they love their sibling.”
This information shows that the chances of happiness for children born with Down Syndrome and those around them are very high. There are no grounds to abort them based on potential quality of life.
Sarah Roberts describes the effect her son Oscar has not only on her children, but all children as valuable. She says, “They don’t necessarily notice any differences yet but I’m sure as time goes on they will. But I think it’s going to be a benefit to them to have Oscar in their lives, and enrich [them].”
Effective as of January 1, a new law in North Carolina requires that all doctors performing abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy send ultrasounds to state officials. The law has sparked intense debate in the state.
Supporters of the law say that its purpose is to makes sure that doctors and clinics comply with the state law that bans abortions after 20 weeks, with an exception for medical emergencies.
“Abortion clinics in North Carolina were only getting inspected once every five to six years,” Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition explained. “Inspecting them every year is part of making sure that the abortion industry is abiding by the rules and protects the health of women. The state of North Carolina has made a public policy decision that babies after 20 weeks have rights. They have the right to live.”
Critics say that the law is an attempt to create obstacles to abortion access and to intimidate women and doctors. “The law intends to intimidate women and physicians,” said Clara Schumann, co-chairperson for Students United for Reproductive Justice. “This is just an addition to a slew of deterrent laws in North Carolina that make it very difficult to get access to services and that will just cause unneeded emotional stress.”
The law requires doctors to send an ultrasound and the method used to determine the gestational age to the State Department of Human Services. The ultrasound requirement has been controversial; some critics claim that it violates patient privacy.
“These are private images from a woman’s personal medical file, and it is completely inappropriate to demand that health care providers turn copies over to the state for government examination, no matter what decision a woman makes about her pregnancy,” said Sarah Eldred, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
Olivia James, a Spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said that doctors will comply with the new law without violating Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations. Ultrasounds that are sent will include the clinic’s name, but not that of the patient or physician. Ultrasound images will be destroyed after two years.
The new law also extended the abortion waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.
Texas’ pro-life law requiring abortion clinics observe certain safety regulations is out for now, according to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court halts pro-life law
The Texas law requires abortion clinics to be within thirty miles of a hospital so that a patient with an emergency could be transported to a nearby surgical center. The District Court ruled the law unconstitutional as an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose under the Fourteenth Amendment.
During the time it was enforced, the law succeeded in shutting down fourteen abortion clinics in the state and preventing an estimated 9,900 abortions, cutting abortions in Texas by 13 percent.
The Court of Appeals permitted the state to continue enforcing its law until the case was resolved.
The Supreme Court overruled, meaning that the law cannot be enforced in the meantime. With three dissenting justices, the Court ruled that the state will have to allow the fourteen abortion clinics to reopen until the case is finally resolved.
The Court has not yet determined when or if the entire case will be settled on its merits. Until then, Texas will reopen its abortion clinics and leave its law unenforced.