Jeff Kruse

JUNE 9, 2017




Yesterday the Senate passed SB 494, which is a bill dealing with Advance Directive.  Oregon Right to Life opposed the bill and mounted a vigorous campaign against it.  They are now attacking me because I voted for it.  I think it is time for some truth beyond the politics.


One of the claims they make in their email is the bill “would legalize starving and dehydrating vulnerable Oregonians suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or mental illness who are conscious and not terminally ill.” There is absolutely no truth in that statement.  It is time for some facts.


Oregon has had an Advance Directive for 22 years.  It is simply a form a person can fill out to inform medical providers and family how they would prefer their end of life care to be administered.  It is a completely voluntary form and no one is required to have one.  The real purpose of this bill is to make the instructions relative to the form more understandable (less lawyer words).  The actual content of the form itself is not changing.  It deals with three categories:  permanently unconscious, advanced progressive illness and close to death.  In each category, a person has choices from everything you can do, or to do nothing.  The complaints we have heard so far have been where a medical facility is doing more than the Directive called for not less.


There are two major changes, the first being the instructions about filling out the form.  It will now be much clearer what a person’s choices will mean in everything including the selection of their healthcare representative.  Once again I will point out this is completely voluntary and I believe if a person wants to determine for themselves how their end of life care is handled they should have the right.  I would also point out that a person must be of “sound mind” to even fill out the form, so a person could not be coerced into filling out the form against their will.


The second major change is putting in statute a committee to review the Advance Directive every few years to determine if changes need to be made.  I have no problem with the make-up of the committee, but I did have an issue with the power they were given in the original bill.  The original bill gave this committee the power to make changes on their own, which I objected to.  Because the Directive is in statute and approved by the Legislature I believe any changes in the future should also be approved by the Legislature.  My support for the bill was based on this change and when that amendment was added, at my request, I became a supporter of the bill.


For me this is a matter of principle.  I asked for a specific change in the bill, which by the way, was what Right to Life originally asked for as well.  What I will not do is say “thank you for that change, now I also want this,” which is what Right to Life did.  In the legislative process the one thing I will never compromise is my word or my integrity.  I will not play political games; I base my work on doing what I can to make good policy.  While I disagree with a lot of what is happening in the Legislature if I make a commitment to a fellow member I will not back down or play games.  I would also point out this bill would have passed without my vote.


I am now being personally attacked by Right to Life who now says “I have abandoned my pro-life position.”  My position has not changed; it is just that they have taken a position that is not based on the truth.  The number one priority of any advocacy group, whether it is right wing or left wing, is to get their supporters to send them money.  To do that they need to have an issue they can either support or oppose.  It is my job to get past all the political rhetoric and false hoods we are bombarded with and try to make good policy.  I stand by my decision to keep the Advance Directive under the control of the Legislature, which ultimately is what my vote accomplished.




Senator Jeff Kruse

email: Sen.JeffKruse@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-205, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/kruse