When advocates of physician-assisted suicide pushed for their controversial Oregon law in the 1990s, they went into extra paragraphs about safeguards. They ballyhooed rules that would ensure Oregon would not be overrun by people wanting to kill themselves. I know this because I heard them, having covered assisted suicide as one of my first beats for the Sentinel.

One by one, these denizens of hastening death have broken promises. Independent oversight of the law gave way to reports from assisted suicide providers themselves, which is akin to letting oil companies make official assessments of pollution. Doctors are no longer so closely attentive; there are fewer hoops to jump through to acquire a lethal prescription in Oregon than to get any number of lifesaving surgeries.

The careful psychological evaluations campaigners promised faded almost as soon as the law went into effect. The waiting period gets waived. And now the residency requirement is scotched. Backers of deadly prescriptions have played us again.

Oregon already is an abortion destination, since it has some of the nation’s most dangerous laws if you are an unborn child. Now, old, sick and disabled Americans from any state should fear an Oregon trip. The euphemisms we use for putting dogs to sleep — “going hunting” or “going to live on a farm” — might get an addition that shockingly applies humans: “Heading for Oregon.”

The truth is, Oregon’s assisted law was never meant to help patients, who always could ask doctors or nurses to slip them an overdose. The law really was designed to protect doctors who want to help patients die.

Physicians’ ancient Hippocratic oath requires them, first, to do no harm. Assisted suicide clearly violates that sacred promise, especially when medical crews fail to give adequate psychological treatment to patients who request death. But assisted suicide seems to be a realm in which promises don’t matter.