Monday, March 9, 2009

Facts and figures: on Oregon’s decade-long experience of legalised euthanasia

Perhaps the most powerful argument advanced by euthanasia advocates is that euthanasia is a way of escaping unbearable suffering. In his weekly Sydney Morning Herald column, Mr. Michael Duffy provided the following figures from Oregon, U.S.A., where euthanasia was legalised in 1998:

The Public Health Division's report on the first decade of deaths under the law says patients' main end-of-life concerns were (more than one could be nominated): losing autonomy 89 per cent; less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable 87 per cent; loss of dignity 82 per cent; losing control of bodily functions 58 per cent; burden on family or friends 39 per cent; inadequate pain control or concern about it 27 per cent; and financial implications of treatment 2.7 per cent.
So here, pain appears to be one of the lesser, though still significant, concerns. Furthermore, this figure is probably something of an exaggeration:

[Dr. Courtney] Campbell notes that even this relatively low level of concern about pain does not necessarily reflect the experience of pain. In at least some cases it meant the patient was concerned about experiencing pain in the future.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Frances of Rome, Widow, A.D. 2009

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