JUST THINKING: Oregon earns failing grade in life issues

<p>Annette Lathrop</p>

The dark, dreary days of winter have slowly passed. Welcome signs of spring are at our doorstep.

As the snow melts, new life appears – calves, lambs and kid goats. Willow branches change color; bulbs emerge victorious over frozen soil. In canyons, buttercups bring first color to hillsides. Spring brings life; hope replaces winter blues.

Our season is changing, not so for issues of life in Oregon; we are trapped in winter. Scientific knowledge of life developments has exploded in the last four decades. Today, only by intentionally lying can anyone maintain that a fetus is a “blob of tissue.” Ultrasound reveals developing human life, a beating heart, a baby yawning. Research has clearly established their ability to feel pain. According to the Washington Post, 49 states have updated their laws; Oregon alone has done nothing.

Some states have added regulations and standards on abortion facilities and requirements on hospitals and/or physicians. Others have included parental involvement, ultrasound requirements, waiting periods or limits on public funding. Almost all prohibit late term abortions. Oregon has done nothing. A baby due tomorrow can legally be terminated. It’s winter for the pre-born in Oregon.

At the other end of life’s spectrum, Oregon led the nation in legalizing assisted suicide. The Death with Dignity Act promised a compassionate approach to death. Safeguards included were clear. The law required the decision to be made between patient and a “long-time trusted doctor”; a terminal patient had to ask for lethal drugs twice, at least two weeks apart, and to be screened for depression. Fifteen years into this social experiment, safeguards are not being followed. In fact, not all physicians report prescribing lethal drugs and there’s no penalty for those who fail to do so. To date, no physician has been disciplined for ignoring the legally required safeguards.

HMOs have become involved, replacing personal physicians. From their perspective assisted suicide is a cheaper option than longer-term palliative care. It is clear from the statistics being reported, that screening for depression is often missing; the two-week interim period is being ignored. Vocalizing another concern is Seattle attorney Margaret Dore: “Assisted suicide in Washington and Oregon is a recipe for elder abuse, cloaked in secrecy.”

Some, including extreme environmentalists, agree with former Joseph resident Andy Kerr, in believing that human overpopulation is destroying the Earth. This group applauds the killings at both ends of life.

There’s a third quality of life issue that remains virtually unnoticed by most Oregonians. A common misconception is that prostituting young children is an international problem. Debunking this myth, national estimates are that one out of three missing teens will be lured or forced into prostitution within 48 hours of going missing. Once captured, victims can be beaten, gang-raped and tortured.

The Portland metro area has become a major U.S. hub for human trafficking. Elizabeth Hovde (Oregonian, September 2012) reported, “According to a slew of recent news stories, Oregon is a great place to go for lottery tickets, alcohol and sex with minors.” Linda Smith, a former Washington State U.S. congresswoman, explains, “Oregon’s laws are too weak to adequately deal with the child traffickers, we call pimps. Oregon [laws] received a D while Washington, a B. It’s safer [for child traffickers] in Oregon to buy and sell children.” Lax sexual trafficking enforcement laws and Portland’s large street kid population draw pimps. Some say the real crime is that no one is looking, no one really cares.

The death of the pre-born, euthanasia and the sexual enslaving of teens earn Oregon a failing grade in respecting life.

Warmer, longer days, sprigs of green showing in a south exposure, all signs of spring acting as a pledge for coming pleasant, summer days. Yet in matters of life, Oregon is much like the land of Narnia (in The Chronicles of Narnia), where it was always winter and never spring.

Wallowa County conservative thinker Annette Lathrop has been involved with local children for decades – as a public school teacher, Sunday School teacher and through other pursuits.

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