Who really profits from the Death With Dignity movement?

(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

Nov. 10, 2018 — As someone who has spent thousands of his own dollars promoting expanding Oregon’s end-of-life choices, the question of who stands to profit from the Death With Dignity movement is one I have have been curious about.

I have reached out to Compassion & Choices, which is the original group that helped get Oregon’s Death With Dignity law passed. It is a well-financed organization that receives lots of donations for promoting Oregon’s Death With Dignity law in other states.

Like many, I believe this law is restrictive and could be much more compassionate. Compassion & Choices has stated twice in the media — in the Washington Post and Siuslaw News, that it opposes my work through End Choices to make Oregon’s law more compassionate. It will not even communicate with me by telephone, email or Facebook.

I have to wonder how it can, in good conscience, accept donations while calling itself  Compassion & Choices but not actually supporting compassion? This is one question I have asked and have not been given an answer to.

Myself being very passionate about the issue cannot understand any group or individual that professes to support Death With Dignity but does not want to help Oregonions make the current law more compassionate.

Another well-financed nonprofit organization that opposes my work through End Choices is Right to Life. Given that the organization has quite a few religious-minded supporters who rely on their faith to guide them, I can understand.

However, what bothers me is how Right to Life seems to misrepresent what is being asked for in expanding Oregon’s end-of-life choices to assure an individual’s advance directive is honored, even when they become vicitims of dementia.

In the past three years, a bill was in front of the Oregon legislature to rewrite the state’s 25-year-old advance directive laws. And every year, Right to Life fought this bill with lots of money.

Last year, during the House of Representative hearings for the bill, I was one of three people testifying to support the bill. Common sense asks, Why not rewrite a 25-year-old law?

What I heard from some of the 200 people who had signed up to oppose it — most from Right to Life — was that rewriting Oregon’s decades-old law would take rights away from those suffering from dementia. Those of us who are educated on this subject through personal experience know the exact opposite is true.

Today in Oregon, an individual’s advance directive may or may not be followed in the event of dementia.

Once that happens, an individual’s right to choose is given to someone else — and they get to decide your end-of-life options. One can only hope this person and your health care providers can agree on what your advance directive says, and whether you would have chosen to continue living with your dementia.

In my opinion, there is too much money being made on keeping people alive and living in a quality of life that would be unacceptable to them if were they still considered mentally competent.

End Choices has been working hard the last year and a half to try and get this changed.

In the upcoming 2019 Oregon legislative session, there will be a bill that will protect the rights of seniors and citizens with incurable conditions and unbearable suffering.

An advanced directive filled out when someone is mentally competent should be a contract for an individual should they someday be considered mentally incompetent to choose for themselves. Oregonians need to educate themselves on the restrictions of the current Oregon Death With Dignity law and the rules regarding advance directives.

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