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/.

Nicaragua: The Conflict Two Days Away

Just 3 days south of Texas, there is a Latin American country on the verge of Civil War. The little country of Nicaragua is experiencing social unrest and violence throughout the country that some are calling the worst it has been since the civil war 30 years ago.

Currently, 78 people have been killed, over 868 people have been injured five of whom are in critical condition and roughly 438 people, including many students, have fallen victim to government disappearances. On one side is the communist dictator Daniel Ortega and his vice president and wife Rosario Murillo, along with the Sandinistas or Nicaraguan Communists. He has most of the government’s support, as well as a fairly large portion of the poor population. Those opposed to the communist dictator are a large group of people ranging from college students, to poor farmers, to other local municipalities who all feel that Ortega is destroying the constitution. Nearly all the major cities in the country are experiencing mostly peaceful protests.

The protests started on the 18th of April after a proposed social security reform that passed practically overnight. The reform would have increased funding for the program while raising the age for individuals to access social security and decreasing the number of benefits given out to those recipients. As with most protests and civil movements, students and the young were the first to protest the bill. The Sandinistas in turn sent in the police to break up the protest. The unarmed protesters were met with police officers firing live ammunition and Pro-Sandinista groups armed by the police. After the first week nearly 50 people were killed, most of which were student protesters. In addition to the deaths, hundreds were injured and arrested. The overreaction of the government to the protests has morphed a simple protest over social security into a nationwide referendum against the Ortega regime.

Since the beginning of the protests, Ortega has given some concessions to the protesters, including withdrawing the social security reform and releasing some of the people arrested, but to the protesters, it isn’t enough. During the unrest, pro-government groups were looting local businesses and causing destruction while under the protection of the police. This only fueled the protests further and caused more people to come out against the government. There are currently hundreds of thousands of people protesting and the number continues to grow daily.

Nicaragua is a poor country with people willing to do whatever it takes to get food. To some people, their only choice is between supporting the oppressive dictator or starve. Others truly believe that the Ortega’s plan can really work and can give everyone a better life. Not all government officials are acting out. Some government workers are joining in the protest and actually keeping the peace through the chaos. The Nicaraguan military has decided to not become involved on either side.

The situation in Nicaragua is still developing and it is hard to tell which way this conflict will go. Currently, the government is engaged in the second day of talks with the protesters in an attempt to bring peace to the country. The demands by the protester are for the government to release those arrested, fire the officers who injured citizens unjustly, and for the President and Vice-President to step down from office. More information can be found by following the social media hashtag #SOSNicaragua.

Oregon Legislature Passes Bills for Disabled Citizens

Two bills passed unanimously during Oregon’s 2017 legislative session that will help significantly to raise awareness for and accommodate disabled citizens. Both were sponsored by State Representative Cedric Hayden.

The first bill, House Bill 2591, moved to designate May as the awareness month for Williams Syndrome, which is a rare genetic condition present at birth that is characterized by numerous medical problems, particularly cardiovascular issues, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.

Representative Hayden, who is currently raising his six-year-old daughter with Williams Syndrome, was motivated to introduce the bill because of his personal experience with the disability. He stated that he hoped appointing May as Williams Syndrome Awareness Month would promote medical and fundraiser awareness for the genetic disorder. The other benefit to the bill he noted is that it could help parents identify the disorder in their children earlier and take the appropriate steps for helping their children deal with this disorder.

The other bill, House Bill 3029, allows for parents or legal guardians to postpone for one year the enrollment of their child in public school if the child’s sixth birthday occurs on or before September 1st. Hayden’s daughter, who is delayed around 24-36 months physically and cognitively like many other disabled children, was forced to go to public school at the age of six. The school held her back in kindergarten another year as a result, which Hayden says naturally caused emotional stress for her and the family.

Many parents with children who have cognitive disabilities (Autism, Down Syndrome, etc) have run into similar problems as Hayden. House Bill 3029 addresses exactly that issue by allowing the parents to delay a child’s education to better accommodate his or her cognitive ability. The decision is purely up to the parents without interference from the school board.

Discussion about Planned Parenthood’s practices now hot topic in Oregon

Discussion about Planned Parenthood’s practices now hot topic in Oregon

Over the summer, Planned Parenthood has come under ever-increasing fire as numerous undercover investigative videos revealed insights into their practice of selling fetal parts from aborted babies, possibly for profit.  But, until recently, that controversy was largely distant from abortion-friendly Oregon, where close to 1 out of every 2 abortions is paid for by taxpayers and there are zero restrictions on abortions (the only such state in the nation).

But the controversy is now swirling here as well, as the Speaker of the State House of Representatives, Tina Kotek (D-Portland), this week cancelled an upcoming hearing into Planned Parenthood’s practices in Oregon.  The hearing, originally scheduled for Monday, September 28th, was requested by 19 Republican members of the Oregon House and agreed to by the Chair of the House Health Care Committee, Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland).

But after receiving a call from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, the political arm of the organization that gives tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats, Speaker Tina Kotek cancelled the hearing, saying Republicans would have turned it into a “political stunt.”

“I am a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood,” Kotek said.  “[I] have seen zero evidence to support the allegations that their opponents have drummed up in recent weeks.”

Greenlick explained the reversal of his decision to hold the hearing saying, “I follow orders.”

House Minority Leader Rep. Mike McLane responded by asking, “What’s the harm of bringing facts to the light?”  According to KGW, McLane said he “wants transparency, unlike the Cover Oregon scandal and the Kitzhaber email fiasco.”

It has been the case for all of recent political history that mainly Democrats support the State of Oregon funding Planned Parenthood and that Planned Parenthood in turn funds the political campaigns of many Oregon Democrats.  The fact that a powerful Democrat agreed to a hearing into Planned Parenthood’s practices is unheard of.  But the fact that at the request of Planned Parenthood this hearing was cancelled shows that abortion is still not a topic that Oregon’s Democratic leadership and Planned Parenthood want to get into.

The House Republicans who requested the hearing wanted to be able to ask Planned Parenthood on record the following types of questions:

1) Do they use “understandable informed consent documentation for the women using their services;”

2) What purposes have fetal body parts have been used for;

3) “What are the “actual costs incurred by Planned Parenthood in its processing of body parts;” and

4) What is the “source and amount of payments made to Planned Parenthood for transmission services.”

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, Stacy Cross, said in a statement: “We were aware of the Republican request for a hearing, and we agree with the Speaker’s decision not to schedule it. If there are any fact-based questions specific to our services in Oregon, we will respond.”

OPINION: Did any good come out of pool party chaos?

OPINION: Did any good come out of pool party chaos?

Recently a video surfaced on Youtube that rocked cyberspace. Captured on a cell phone, the seven-minute clip shows a crowd of swimsuit-clad youth in a suburban Texas neighborhood, milling around anxiously while several police officers questioned them and forced some onto the ground.

The scene escalated as one particular officer began shouting and cursing at several juveniles, going so far as to throw one fourteen-year-old girl violently to the ground and handcuff her while sitting on her back with his knees. When a few of her friends rushed forward to help, the officer pulled out his gun and ran them off. This video now has more than 12,000,000 views.

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A CNN article delves deeper into the event: some neighbors have come forward to say that the police were called because the kids were partying at the neighborhood pool without permission. Others say the commotion was brought on by a disturbance unrelated to the teens throwing the pool party. No matter what way you look at it, the image of a police officer kneeling on a teen girl leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Can anything good come out of a story like this one?

When I take a step back, I realize that while this incident never should have happened, I am glad it has at least received so much attention. The police officer in question, Eric Casebolt, has been rebuked far and wide across the inter-webs, and thousands have called for the removal of his police badge. Last Monday he did resign from the force after being placed on suspension, and the police chief of the McKinney, Texas police department pronounced Casebolt’s actions “indefensible,” adding that a full investigation will be launched. Television host Bill Maher spoke on the incident, voicing his opinion that this kind of behavior can and should be weeded out. His colleague on the panel added that, “This time we can have the conversation without a body on the ground.”

Situations like this one arise all the time. Unnecessary violence is often facilitated against the unarmed or innocent, whether it be a police man against young girl, an abusive husband against his spouse, or a person of influence against a subordinate. When these events are brought to light, as was this one in Texas, the population has a chance to see inequality and mistreatment in real time, and identify problems and solutions in their own neighborhoods and in their own lives.