Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Louisiana Assisted-Suicide Ban Strengthened


The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 8:37 a.m.

BATON ROUGE -- The House unanimously backed a proposal Monday to strengthen Louisiana’s ban on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

House Bill 1086 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, would spell out that someone authorized to approve medical procedures for another person may not approve any procedure that would be considered assisted suicide. That prohibition also would be extended to include surgical or medical treatment for the developmentally disabled or nursing home residents who may be unable to make their own medical decisions.

Louisiana already has a prohibition in criminal law against euthanasia and assisted suicide. But Seabaugh said he wanted to make sure it was clear in the state’s medical consent law.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dore v. Morris: Assisted suicide debate deals with abuse, compassion


Lawyer cautions against legislating through courts

By Mike Youds, Daily News Staff Reporter
Margaret Dore (L) and Wanda Morris (R)

A right to medically assisted suicide may sound compassionate and just, but beware the details when it comes to the act itself, a U.S. lawyer warned Wednesday in a debate at TRU.

Margaret Dore shared some of her experiences with assisted suicide in Washington State, where the practice became legal through a ballot measure four years ago.

 "A lot of people think this is a great idea until they start thinking and reading about how you do it," she told an audience of about 30 people in the Irving K. Barber Centre.

In effect, laws in Washington and Oregon empower people who may choose to abuse the responsibility, Dore said.

"Your heir can be there to help you sign up. Once the legal dose leaves the pharmacy, there is no oversight whatsoever."

Wanda Morris, head of the Canadian charity Dying With Dignity, advocated for the right to choose to end life humanely.

"These are individuals who want to live, but they are individuals facing a horrific death," she said. "The fundamental difference is choice. Choice is important in Canada. Why is it, at the time of life when we're facing our toughest decision we could ever make, that choice is taken away?"

The issue has long been debated in Canada, where two years ago Parliament easily defeated a bill that would have permitted assisted suicide and euthanasia. Recently the subject has made headlines again with two court high-profile court cases in B.C. and Quebec.

"Autonomy is such a critical value, it is a cornerstone of modern medicine," Morris continued. "Nothing can be done without consent. And yet here, at the end of life, I'm not given that choice."

Dore said she agrees that people should have the right to choose how they die, but the U.S. laws don't give that. Four days after the Washington State law passed, the adult son of a care facility resident showed up asking how "to get them pills," she said.

"Who's choice?," she asked rhetorically. An adult child can administer the lethal dose with no one else to tell whether it was a matter of consent. "There is no oversight over administration."

Morris insisted that the law her organization has long pushed for would only apply to individuals with six months or less to live. Dore countered that such a restriction does not apply in the U.S. and pointed to a case where an Oregon woman, who was talked out of suicide by her doctor, remains thankful she has survived another 12 years.

There was a $5.4-million lobby for assisted suicide in Washington, a machine that was up against a volunteer group, she said.

"In Canada and the U.S., there is a very significant funder in this debate and it is the Catholic church," Morris said.

Opponents of assisted suicide argue from dogmatic positions and cannot be satisfied, she said.

"Excuse me, but I never said anything about Catholic dogma," Dore replied.

She warned that Canada, having rejected the idea in Parliament, is facing the possibility of legislating it through the courts with the Carter and Leblanc court cases.

"We have a blank slate and we can write in whatever controls we want to protect the weak and the vulnerable," Morris said.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NY Times: Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse

April 10, 2012

Margaret DoreMargaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal, is the president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit organization opposed to assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide means that one person provides the means or information for another person to commit suicide. In Oregon and Washington, assisted-suicide laws were passed by ballot measures. No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature despite more than 100 attempts.

The Oregon and Washington acts apply to "terminal" patients, defined as patients predicted to have no more than six months to live. Doctor prognoses, however, can be wrong. Moreover, treatment can lead to recovery. My friend Jeanette Hall was adamant that she would "do" Oregon's act. She had been diagnosed with cancer and was given six months to a year to live. Her doctor convinced her to be treated. That was nearly 12 years ago.

Proponents tout assisted suicide as providing "choice" over the timing of one's death. But choice under the Oregon and Washington acts cannot be assured. For example, neither act requires witnesses at the death. Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?

Assisted suicide is a concept contrary to public safety and a recipe for elder abuse.  Americans are right to be skeptical of these laws.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Canadian Debates: Vancouver this coming Thursday!

Dr. Will Johnston, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, BC, will be debating Wanda Morris, Executive Director, Dying with Dignity Canada, this coming Thursday!  See below:

Vancouver: April 12, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Simon Fraser University
Venue: SFU-Harbourside Campus Room 1900;
515 West Hastings Street, V6B 5K3

Dr. Johnston and Ms. Morris are both skilled debaters.  It will be an interesting program.  Please show up to give Dr. Johnston your support!

More information:

The debate is the second in a series of debates to be held across Canada over the next few months.  The debate coordinator is the Centre for Inquiry.  Future debates are scheduled for Kamloops, Kelowna, Calgary, Saskatoon and Toronto.  Specifics:

Kamloops: April 18, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: 900 McGill Road, Kamloops B.C.
Venue: Irving K. Barber Centre, Thompson Rivers University
Debaters:  Margaret Dore, President of "Choice is an Illusion," vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Kelowna: April 19, 2012
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Mary Irwin Theatre, at the Rotary Centre for the Arts
Venue: 421 Cawston Avenue, Kelowna, BC, Canada
Debaters:  Margaret Dore, President of "Choice is an Illusion," vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Calgary: April 22, 2012
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: Science Theatre Bldg, Room ST140
Venue: University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. N.W., Calgary
Debaters:  Dr. Will Johnston, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, BC vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Saskatoon: May 3, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location, etc.: To be determined 

Toronto: June 6, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location, etc.: To be determined.

For more up to date information, contact the debate host and coordinator,  the Centre for Inquiry, or the individual speakers.  Dr. Johnston can be reached at  604 220 2042.  Margaret Dore can be reached at 206 697 1217.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The ASA Conference: Choice is an Illusion on Top!

Vender index, ASA Conference
Thanks to the magic of alphabetical order, Choice is an Illusion came out on top at last week's American Society on Aging Conference in Washington DC.  See photo.

Special thanks to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for its financial support to make this possible.  Thanks also to our volunteers!