Assisted dying for terminally ill mentally competent adults has been legal in Oregon USA for 16 years. Each year the Oregon Public Health Division publishes an annual report to monitor the safety of the law.
These reports consistently find that:
1) There has been no abuse of the law: strict safeguards work to protect vulnerable people.
2) The right law was enacted: the law has not been extended beyond terminally ill mentally competent adults.
3) Assisted dying numbers remain low and stable: Around 0.2% of all deaths per year in Oregon are from assisted dying. Half of those patients who received a prescription for the life-ending medication choose not to take it – the choice itself provides them (and countless more) with comfort.
2013 Oregon report: key findings:
• Assisted dying accounted for 0.21% (based on preliminary 2013 mortality data) of total deaths in Oregon in 2013 – this number has remained stable for the 16 years assisted dying has been legal.
• 122 people requested life-ending medication in 2013. Around half of these did not take the medication – rather they took comfort in knowing the option was there.
• The vast majority of people who took an assisted death were also enrolled in hospice care.
• The majority of people who had an assisted death had terminal cancer and were aged between 55-84.
A UK law based on the Oregon model
Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill is going to be debated in the House of Lords this summer. Find out how you can support it now.