Oregon bill would allow starvation of Alzheimer’s patients, empower death panels

Oregon bill would allow starvation of Alzheimer’s patients, empower death panels

A bill introduced in the Oregon Senate would drastically alter current advance directive laws, diminishing the effects of powers of attorney and allowing incapacitated patients to be refused ordinary food and water. It would also mandate the formation of an unelected state committee to create a new advance directive form.

According to reports, the bill is in response to a case in southern Oregon, where a court ruled that a husband was not allowed to deny his wife spoon-feeding by staffers at her care home after she became incapable of caring for herself due to Alzheimer’s disease. The woman is conscious and able to move, but needs prompting to eat. …

SB494 would remove “current safeguards which prohibit surrogates [like the Alzheimer’s patient’s husband] from withholding ordinary food and water from conscious patients with conditions that don’t allow them to make decisions about their own care. Currently, patients … are given help with eating and drinking when they cannot do it themselves. This is not tube feeding or an IV—this is basic, non-medical care for conscious patients.” …

The language of SB494 is also vague—deliberately so, charge some of its opponents. So vague, in fact, that it completely removes the definitions of tube feeding, life support, and dementia.

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