Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Washington Assisted Suicide Report: No Information About Consent

By Margaret Dore

Washington assisted suicide act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.[1]  During the election, proponents claimed that its passage would ensure individuals control over their deaths.  A glossy brochure declared, "Only the patient — and no one else — may administer the [lethal dose]."[2]  The Act, however, does not say this anywhere.

Today, the Washington State Department of Health issued its annual report about Washington's act.[3]  That report, similarly, does not demonstrate that individuals are in control. The report provides no information as to whether the people who died under the act consented and/or acted voluntarily at the time of death.  The report instead talks about "ingestion" of the lethal dose.  A drug can be "ingested" while a person is asleep, sedated and/or not aware of his or her surroundings.

For more information about Washington's act, See Margaret Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," Bar Bulletin, May 2009.[4]  

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[1]  Washington's act was passed by in November 2008 as Initiative 1000 and has now been codified as RCW chapter 70.245.
[2]   I-1000 color pamphlet, "Paid for by Yes! on 1000."
[3]  See News Release here and report here.
[4]  Further information can be viewed here.