Less-than-truthful euthanasia echoes tactics used in Roe v. Wade.
When abortion activists campaigned successfully to legalize abortion in the United States in 1973, their figurehead, Jane Roe, lied about the facts of her pregnancy to the Supreme Court, claiming to be a rape victim.
In 1994, a publicity campaign to persuade Oregon voters to approve a euthanasia law also used a “hard” case to sway public opinion. An investigation by the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force (AETF) has discovered that the “true story” used in one television ad contained less than the whole truth.
Last November, Oregon voters approved Measure 16, the “Death with Dignity” Act, by a narrow margin. The Act makes it legal for doctors to intentionally prescribe lethal drugs (restricted to pills) to their patients who voluntarily request death and are capable of self-administering the pills.
The pro-euthanasia campaign centred on a hard-sell television ad, featuring Patty A. Rosen, the head of Oregon Right to Die. She urged a yes vote, saying the Act “would have allowed my daughter to die with dignity.”
“I am a criminal,” she said in the commercial. “My 25-year-old daughter, Jody, was dying of cancer. The pain was so great that she couldn’t bear to be touched, and drugs didn’t help. Jody had a few weeks to live when she decided she wanted to end her life. But it wasn’t legally possible. So I broke the law and got her the pills necessary. And as she slipped peacefully away, I climbed into her bed and I took her in my arms (her voice cracks with emotion) for the first time in months…”
The IAETF traced a speech given by Rosen to a Hemlock Society conference two years earlier where she admitted that the pills did not work, and that she had in fact administered a fatal injection to her daughter. Rosen verified this information in an interview with a local newspaper just before the election, when she stated that she had killed her daughter.
“First Jody took the pills and went to sleep,” she said. “Then I got absolutely hysterical and thought she might wake up. Then I gave her additional morphine by injection and a suppository so she wouldn’t vomit up the pills.”
The IAETF has also obtained a certified copy of Jody’s death certificate which shows that this kind of death is not a swift process. Rosen has stated publicly the time at which the induced-death process was started, the death certificate shows that Jody died 10 hours and 40 minutes later.
In addition, the pain she suffered could well have been because she was not looked after by a doctor trained in alleviating cancer pain. The attending physician listed on the death certificate as attending her for six months prior to her death has been identified by the IAETF as an obstetrician/gynaecologist.
Oregon’s Measure 16 has been installed by the courts for the time being. Last December, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan ruled that the courts must first decide if the act is constitutional before it is put in place, a process that could take a year or more.
Rita Marker, IAETF’s executive director, notes that the act was deliberately written in the loosest possible terms. While the act specifies that a patient must be capable of ingesting pills and prohibits lethal injection by a doctor, these restrictions seem merely a short-term strategy to sell legalized death to the public.
Shortly before the vote, Patti Rosen told members of the Oregon Nurses Association that, despite her organization’s claim to the contrary, pills do not work. This was backed up by euthanasia activist and Hemlock founder, Derek Humphry, a supporter of Measure 16. In a letter to the New York Times, he wrote that the Oregon law “could be disastrous.”
“The new Oregon way to die will only work if in every instance a doctor is standing by to administer the coup de grace if necessary.”
Rita Marker predicts, “It is just a matter of time before Measure 16 supporters find the right ‘hard case’ – a patient who is physically unable to self-administer a deadly prescription – to file a lawsuit claiming that Measure 16 is unfairly discriminatory against such patients, thereby setting the stage for what was always intended: doctors directly killing patients.”