Thursday, November 13, 2014

If New Jersey's Assisted Suicide Bill Is Enacted, There Will be Pressure to Expand its Reach to Broader Groups of People.

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

Today, the New Jersey Assembly passed a proposed assisted suicide/euthanasia bill, which goes next to the New Jersey Senate. The bill is the "third reprint" of A2270, which has a six months to live eligibility criteria for assisted suicide and euthanasia.

If enacted, there will be pressure to expand “eligibility” to broader groups of people who are not close to death.  I say this due to what’s been happening with hospice and our experience here in Washington State regarding our similar law.  See also this legal/policy analysis of the third reprint.

Hospice

Hospice has a six months to live eligibility criteria.  In August, the Washington Post reported that there “appears to be a surge in hospices enrolling patients who aren’t close to death.”[1]  This practice is resulting in the overdose deaths of non-dying people.[2]

This is consistent with what I've been hearing from people in both the US and Canada regarding the deaths of their family members.[3]

Washington State

In Washington State, our law went into effect in 2009.  Since then, we have had informal “trial balloon” proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people.  For example, there was a column in the Seattle Times, which is our largest paper, containing this suggestion for euthanasia of people who didn't save enough for their old age. The column stated:
A few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out.
At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.[4] 
So, you work hard all your life, pay taxes and then your pension plan goes broke, this is how society would pay you back, with non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?

Prior to passing our law, I never heard anyone talk like this.

Don't make Washington's mistake.

Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State and President of Choice is an Illusion.  For more information about problems with New Jersey's bill, please see Ms. Dore' legal/policy memo regarding that law, which can be viewed here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-no-assisted-suicide-11-12-14.pdf

[1] Peter Whoriskey, “As More Hospices Enroll Patients Who Aren’t Dying, Questions About Lethal Doses Arise,” Washington Post. August 21, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/21/as-more-hospices-enroll-patients-who-arent-dying-questions-about-lethal-doses-arise/?
[2] Id.
[3] See e.g. Carol Mungas, "I support House Bill 505, which clearly states that assisted suicide is not legal" (My husband, Dr. James E. Mungas "was effectively euthanized against his will"),  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/i-support-house-bill-505-which-clearly.html; Daniela, "Euthanasia without patient consent and over the family's objection," ("Our family . . . is having emotional problems because of what we witnessed.... [N]ow I hear my grandma cry for water every night") http://www.margaretdore.org/2014/11/euthanasia-without-patient-consent-and.html and Kate Kelly, "Mild stroke led to mother's forced starvation,"("I cried much of the time, but softly, so she would not know.  I didn't want to add to her agony.")   http://www.choiceillusion.org/p/mild-stroke-led-to-mothers-forced.html
[4] To view a copy of the newspaper column, please go here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Whose Choice Will It Be? Telling the truth about assisted suicide. Excerpts from an NRO Interview

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/392444/whose-choice-will-it-be-interview  . . . .

Margaret Dore is a lawyer in Washington State, where assisted suicide is also legal. Dore is a former law clerk to the Washington state supreme court and president of Choice Is an Illusion, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia. She talks with National Review Online about assisted suicide as it exists now and how we might make a change. — Kathryn Jean Lopez 

. . . .
Lopez: What is the absolute first thing that you would like anyone who was moved by Brittany Maynard’s life and death to know?

Dore: I would want them to know that “eligibility” for legal assisted suicide is not limited to people who are near death. This is true for the following reasons:

Under the Oregon and Washington assisted-suicide laws, assisted suicide is legal for “terminal” patients, meaning those predicted to have less than six months to live. But such predictions can be wrong. Moreover, treatment can lead to recovery. Consider Jeanette Hall, who was diagnosed with cancer in Oregon in 2000 and was adamant that she would “do” Oregon’s law. Her doctor, who didn’t believe in assisted suicide, stalled her and convinced her to be treated instead. Today, 14 years later, she is thrilled to be alive. You can see her doctor’s affidavit here.

Once assisted suicide is legal, there is pressure to expand. For example, here in Washington State, we have already had “trial balloon” proposals to expand our law to euthanasia for non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing proposal was a discussion in our largest paper suggesting euthanasia for people who didn’t have enough money for their old age. So, if you worked hard all your life, paid taxes, and then your pension plan went broke, this is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia? (The newspaper column can be read here.)

In other words, with legal assisted suicide, people with years to live are encouraged to throw away their lives. Moreover, and contrary to the media hype, legal assisted suicide (or euthanasia) may not be voluntary. . . .

Lopez: Why is the “death with dignity” language misleading?

Dore: Because it’s a euphemism, which doesn’t readily disclose that we are talking about assisted suicide and euthanasia for people who may or may not be dying anytime soon, and that such death may not be voluntary.

Lopez: Who is Compassion & Choices? Is its name misleading?

Dore: Compassion & Choices is a successor organization to the Hemlock Society, originally formed by Derek Humphry. In March 2011, Humphry was in the news as a promoter of mail-order suicide kits from a company now shut down by the FBI. This was after a 29-year-old man had used one of the kits to commit suicide. Seven months later, on October 22, 2011, Humphry was the keynote speaker at Compassion & Choices’ annual meeting here in Washington State.

Compassion & Choices’ name is misleading because it does not disclose its true nature as a suicide/euthanasia advocacy group. The name is also misleading because Compassion & Choices’ true mission is to reduce choice in health care and to change public policy so as to reduce patient cures.

Lopez: Speaking of names: How did your group arrive at Choice Is an Illusion?   

Dore: The name, Choice Is an Illusion, is a commentary on Compassion & Choices because the laws it promotes do not assure patient choice. . . .

Lopez: What might you want to leave readers with in closing?

Dore: Problems with legal assisted suicide include:

  • The encouragement of people with years to live to throw away their lives.
  • New paths of elder abuse, for example, in the context of inheritance.
  • A push to expand euthanasia to non-terminal individuals.

Don’t make Washington State’s mistake.

To read the entire article, please go here:  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/392444/whose-choice-will-it-be-interview

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Euthanasia without patient consent and over the family's objection

This last August, the Washington Post did a feature article on how non-dying people are being killed in hospices. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/21/as-more-hospices-enroll-patients-who-arent-dying-questions-about-lethal-doses-arise/?   

I have had many people contact me with similar stories.  Below, please find the latest one by a Romanian immigrant.  I hope that more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals can speak out about these cases, before it's too late.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President


Case in Point: 

My name is Daniela. I am 46 years old and live in Oregon. I believe my grandmother was killed in a hospital on June 24, 2014. She was in the emergency room for three hours and was given morphine after we had refused it and clearly asked for her right to die naturally. The nurse told me that it was time to say goodbye and she died almost immediately upon receiving that shot. I have the medical records, but there is no notation of the morphine she was given, which makes me believe the records were falsified. 

Elisabeta KoczurThe photograph to the left is of Elisabeth Koczur.

The last wish my grandma had was for a drink of water. I don't think I will ever forget how she looked at me expecting help. Four nurses in the room imprisoned me and I could not move. I was forced to keep looking in her eyes as she pleaded for water. Why was I not allowed to grant her last wish?

Our family is in shock and is having emotional problems because of what we witnessed. My grandma went to the hospital with abdominal pain and shortness of breath. There, according to the medical records, she was diagnosed to have congestive heart failure, but, when she went into cardiac arrest, they did not attempt to resuscitate her. If she had received proper treatment, she might be here with us today. Grana, as I called her, was 99 years old. I think they decided that she had lived too long, but they did not know this beautiful soul.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Please don't commit suicide. Someone wants to help you."

From True Dignity Vermont:

Sad News: Brittany Maynard Died on November 1 by Assisted Suicide

http://www.truedignityvt.org/sad-news-brittany-maynard-died-november-1-assisted-suicide/

So Ms. Maynard was trapped after all.  Two days ago she said she still enjoyed life and this didn't feel like the right time, and now a twenty-nine year old is dead by her own hand.  She died on the very day she had said was too soon, November 1.  What a waste of days that could have been spent with her family and helping others, perhaps by using her beauty in an ad to raise funds for better care of the dying or for a cure for glioblastoma.  We are so sad for Maynard and her family, but most of all for those thousands of people, disabled, depressed, elderly, wrongly diagnosed, who will  die prematurely or against their full free will if, instead of unleashing a wave of revulsion, her suicide unleashes a wave of new laws making assisted suicide legal.  


Right now, tonight and in the coming days and months, we hope that anyone who has been led by the media's disregard of the most basic suicide prevention tenets of the World Health organization (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/resource_media.pdf ) to think that suicide is romantic or the only solution to his or her problems will ask for help by calling his or her state's suicide hotline.   For a list of these, go to http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html.  

Please don't commit suicide.  Someone wants to help you.