Oregon 2019 Expansion Bill HB 2232

Analysis of 2019 HB 2232

Oregon HB 2232[1] is one of three bills introduced in 2019 that would make changes to expand Oregon’s current doctor-prescribed suicide law.

Although Oregon is often touted as having a law that contains a myriad of “safeguards,” the reality is that it is already filled with loopholes.  And now, HB 2232, if passed, would increase those loopholes.

That is because the definition of “terminal disease” would change and “self-administer” could include a lethal injection.

The current definition of “terminal disease” in Oregon’s law can be (and has been) interpreted very broadly. However, the proposed new definition would permit a physician to prescribe assisted-suicide drugs to virtually anyone.

As proposed, HB 2232 redefines “terminal disease” and “self-administration.”

“Terminal disease” means a disease that will “produce or substantially contribute to a patient’s death.”[2]

That doesn’t mean that the patient is dying.  It doesn’t mean that the disease is incurable or irreversible.  It doesn’t mean that the patient has a short time to live.  It doesn’t mean that the particular disease will eventually cause death.  It only means that it is expected to contribute to a patient’s death in days, months, years or decades.

It could include alcoholism which has been classified as a disease.[3]

And who would decide that a patient has a terminal disease?  None other than the physician who would have the power to diagnose that patient’s disease and who is willing to prescribe the lethal overdose of drugs.

“Self-administer” means patient’s “act of ingesting or delivering by another method medication to end his or her life…”[4]

Many patients inject themselves with medications or vitamins.  Diabetics inject themselves with insulin.  Injections of Vitamin B 12 are commonly injected by individuals.  Likewise, patients could inject themselves with the doctor-prescribed deadly overdose of drugs.

As long as the patient self-administered the deadly drugs, they could be taken by mouth, by placement in a feeding tube, or by lethal injection.  All that is required is that the patient is the one who does the final act that results in death.

Of course, how would we ever know if the patient did that final act of self-injection?  Someone else could administer the lethal injection and no one would ever know.

[1] HB 2232 as proposed. Available at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2232/Introduced.  (Last accessed 1/25/19.)

[2] HB 2232, Section 3 (13), Definition of “Terminal Disease.”

[3] Disease theory of alcoholism.  Available at: https://www.dualdiagnosis.org/alcohol-addiction/disease-theory-alcoholism/#die.  (Last accessed 1/25/19.)

[4] HB 2232, Section 3 (12). Definition of Self-administer.

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Patients Right Council