Euthanasia Essay - Oregon's Measure 16 For Assisted Suicide

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Oregon's Measure 16 For Assisted Suicide

In passing the legislation known as Measure 16 in the state of Oregon, were there deceptions involved? Did the media play along with proponents of assisted suicide, denying media coverage to opposing viewpoints? What did proponents do immediately after passage of Measure 16? This paper will seek to satisfy these questions and others.

The "centerpiece" of the campaign to pass Measure 16 was a 60-second television ad featuring Patty A. Rosen (head of the Bend, OR chapter of the Hemlock Society and a former nurse practitioner). In it, Rosen urged the public to "Vote yes on 16" and gave an emotional personal testimonial to the illusion of slipping away peacefully after taking pills:

"I am a criminal. My 25-year-old daughter, Jody, was dying of bone 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 [Rosen's voice cracks with emotion] for the first time in months...." (1)

A statement signed by Rosen also appeared in the Oregon Voters' guide, distributed just prior to the vote on Measure 16: "She [Rosen's daughter] took the necessary medication herself and I was there when she fell asleep for the last time." (2) But it turned out that Rosen's account was different than an earlier version of this "true story" which was so effective in promoting a "pills only" measure to the voters. (3) Two years earlier, during the campaign for California's ballot initiative -- which allowed for both pills and a lethal injection -- Patty Rosen, then Patty Fallon, told a far different version of her daughter's death:

"So she went to sleep. I didn't know about plastic bags. I wish I had. Because...It seemed to be back firing. And I was fortunate enough at the very last to be able to hit a vein right.... [B]efore I could do that, the one son came into the room.... took his hands and held her veins for me.... I said, 'Oh God, she's startin' to breathe again.' And [the other son] said, 'I'll take a pillow.

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