Besides Oregon, medical aid in dying, with similar rules and provisions, is available in D.C. and the states of California, Colorado, Montana, Vermont, Washington state and, most recently, Hawaii, Maine and New Jersey — three states that enacted laws this year.
With interest and support growing for such a law in Illinois, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s medical humanities department has invited a retired family physician who used the Oregon law to serve dying patients for 13 years to speak about his experience.
The free seminar, featuring Dr. David Grube, will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the school’s South Auditorium, 801 N. Rutledge St.
In a phone interview last week, Grube said Oregon’s medical-aid-in-dying option is used relatively infrequently.
A report from the Oregon Health Authority, a part of the state’s government, says 168 people in Oregon died in 2018 ingesting the prescribed medications, including 11 who had received prescriptions in previous years. About 80% of the 168 who died were 65 or older, and 62% had cancer.
Almost two out of every 10 people prescribed the medications in 2018 didn’t take them and died from other causes, the report said.
The estimated rate of deaths associated with the medical-aid-in-dying option in Oregon was 45.9 per 10,000 total deaths.
Grube, 72, who retired from practice in 2012, said the law fulfills its intended purpose in Oregon, a state of 4.2 million people that is one-third the size of Illinois.
“If Illinois gets this law, the same number of people are going to die, because all of these people are dying, but there will be less suffering,” he said. “That’s what we see in Oregon and the other areas where this is authorized.”
For those wanting to learn more before Thursday, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which took effect in 1997, will be the topic of a free showing of the award-winning documentary, “How to Die in Oregon” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 745 Woodside Road. A discussion will follow the 107-minute film.