Oregon bill allowing dementia and Alzheimer's patients to starve to death advances to governor's office

An Oregon bill that will allow patients of dementia, Alzheimer's and other mental impairments to starve to death is one signature away from becoming a state law.

(REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)A bill modifying assisted-suicide or euthanasia provisions has advanced in Oregon and might soon become a law.

The governor's office has the final proposal of House Bill 4135, which has passed several readings and deliberations and was signed by the Speaker of the House and Senate President. The proposal will bring a big change to a 1993 statute that disallowed healthcare workers from starving patients to death unless there was a concrete and explicit instruction from the concerned individuals or principals.

Some lawmakers voted in favor of the bill because the 1993 directive apparently needed clarification when it came to assisted suicide. In the new directive, a healthcare worker will be allowed to make the crucial decision on the mentally ill patient's case in the event that their health deteriorates, especially since they no longer have any ability to make such a choice. The bill approves the carrying out of euthanasia through healthcare workers, whether it is the principal's will or not.

"This form that we have now, it's written in lawyer and doctor," Democratic Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, who has heard testimonies of people with experience about end-of-life situations, told the press. "It's not written in English."

Expectedly, the bill has gained much opposition, especially from pro-life advocates. Lois Anderson, the executive director of Oregon Right to Life, called out the bill for making Oregonians vulnerable and without protection to uphold their right to live.

"This bill is a betrayal of that trust," Anderson stated. "The brief hearings held in committee showed significant problems with the bill, especially the testimony from doctors who know well what Oregonian patients need."

Governor Kate Brown will have to sign or veto the bill, and it is not quite clear where she will side. The Democratic leader, however, is a known supporter of abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood and Emily's List.