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Look how we do it in Oregon, the ethics guardian tells Gillard

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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-28-10 11:13 PM
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Look how we do it in Oregon, the ethics guardian tells Gillard
BARBARA GLIDEWELL has had hundreds of conversations with dying people who want to end their own life, or want the option to do so. And she wants the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to know it is entirely possible to formulate a law with appropriate safeguards.

Associate Professor Glidewell is an ethics adviser and recently retired hospital ombudsman from Oregon where physician-aided death has been allowed for almost 13 years. She has overseen the consultation process for roughly half the physician-assisted deaths under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act.

''The law has worked well,'' she said. ''Oregon has been too quiet about it; we didn't want hordes moving to the state.''

Ms Glidewell will address the biennial conference of the World Federation of Right To Die Societies in Melbourne next week. But she would like a word with the Prime Minister. Ms Gillard said on the weekend she was ''conflicted'' on the issue of euthanasia, and she found it ''almost impossible'' to conceive how there could be appropriate safeguards.

Oregon's law, Ms Glidewell says, has needed minimal tweaking since it was passed in 1997.

But the law has little to do with euthanasia which puts control of the ending of life in the hands of a doctor, she says. Rather it regulates physician-aided death which gives a fully competent, dying person the means to hasten the end with prescribed medication that must be self-administered.

Ms Glidewell, 66, said central to the law is an extensive screening process to ensure the dying person is not under duress, not depressed, and not seeking to move on for the sake of others.

''Just because a wife says she can't bear to see her dying husband suffer is no reason for the poor husband to feel he must end his life,'' she said.

As a neutral facilitator, Ms Glidewell has taken part in about 30 screening interviews a year with doctors and dying people. The patients must take part in two interviews, 15 days apart.

''These have been some of the most profound conversations I've ever been involved in,'' Ms Glidewell said. Those intent on maintaining control and dignity at life's end tended to be ''vigorous souls pragmatic, usually assertive people who know what they want They say 'why do I have to lie here day after day with people doing things to me? I don't want my granddaughter changing my diaper. I'm actively dying. Emotionally and intellectually I'm finished; now I choose not to go on. Life no longer offers enjoyment; I'm done.'''

But only a tiny group ended up taking the medication - last year 59 did so although 95 prescriptions were written.

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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 02:17 AM
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1. It's a tough call.
I agree that people should be allowed to die with dignity intact, but there must be stringent safeguards. Unfortunately, I have known people in my life who wouldn't have hesitated to put a relative out of the way for an inheritance. Death (and the prospect of inheriting) brings out the very worst in some people.

And I have seen dying people shamefully neglected by family - it can only add to their distress, and make them feel that life is definitely not worth living.
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