Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oregon's New Statistics

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

Oregon's assisted suicide statistics are out for 2012.[1]

This annual report is similar to prior years.  The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject.[2]

Oregon's assisted suicide law allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight.[3]  This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent, for example, when the patient is asleep.  Who would know?

The new Oregon report provides the following demographics:  

"Of the 77 DWDA deaths during 2012, most (67.5%) were aged 65 years or older; the median age was 69 years.  As in previous years, most were white (97.4%), [and] well-educated (42.9% had at least a baccalaureate degree) . . . ."[4]  Most (51.4%) had private health insurance.[5]

Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately victims of financial abuse and exploitation.[6]

As set forth above, Oregon's law is written so as to allow the lethal dose to be administered to patients without their consent and without anyone knowing how they died.  The law thus provides the opportunity for the perfect crime.  Per the new report, the persons dying (or killed) under that law are  disproportionately seniors with money, a group disproportionately victimized by financial abuse and exploitation.

Oregon's new report is consistent with elder abuse.


[1]  The new report can be viewed here: and
[2]  Id.
[3]  Oregon's law can be viewed here:
[4]  Report cited at note 1.
[5]  Id.
[6]  See "Broken Trust:  Elders, Family, and Finances," a Study on Elder Financial Abuse Prevention, by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, March 2009.