Deaths by ‘deadly prescription’ have risen to an unprecedented level in the US state of Oregon, official figures show.
According to Oregon Health Authority, 278 people died in 2022 “from ingesting the prescribed medications” – the state’s highest annual assisted suicide death toll.
Physician-assisted suicide has been legal for terminally ill patients in Oregon since 1997 and activists have been calling for similar systems to be adopted across the British Isles.
In 2022, at least three people from outside the state visited Oregon to kill themselves by ingesting lethal drugs, after the state agreed not to enforce the legal residency requirement.
A Bill has now been introduced to abolish the residency requirement altogether. If passed, it would legalise ‘death tourism’ in the US for the first time.
Among reasons given by those seeking to end their own lives, 46 per cent cited feeling like a burden on family, friends or caregivers, while seventeen individuals said they did so because of worries about the “financial implications of treatment”.
feeling like a burden on family, friends or caregivers
Lois Anderson, Executive Director of Oregon Right to Life, said doctors were “providing these deadly prescriptions” to people they hardly knew and were just “churning people through the ‘Death with Dignity’ machine”.
The physicians providing these deadly prescriptions hardly know their patients and are often abandoning them in the last moments of their lives. That’s not care. That’s churning people through the ‘Death with Dignity’ machine.Lois Anderson, Executive Director of Oregon Right to Life
Last month, the MP Danny Kruger warned that assisted suicide is not healthcare but an “execution” of those deemed not worthy to live.
In a Channel 4 documentary, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dying Well highlighted that it is impossible to introduce assisted suicide safely.
Mr Kruger said when you permit doctors “to decide that some people are better off dead, you will inevitably end up expanding the criteria” to access it.
Attempts to legalise assisted suicide are currently under way in Scotland, Jersey and the Isle of Man.