Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Possible expansion of physician-assisted suicide laws in other states should concern Montana

I am doctor in Washington state where physician-assisted suicide is legal for “terminal patients” predicted to have less than six months to live. I disagree with the letter by Kristen Wood (letter, Feb. 28) that expansion is not a concern in this context.

In Washington state, our assisted suicide law has only been in effect for four years. We have, however, already had proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people. See e.g., Brian Faller, “Perhaps it’s time to expand Washington’s Death with Dignity Act,” Nov. 16, 2011. Last year, there was also this article in the Seattle Times, suggesting euthanasia for people who cannot afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia: Jerry Large, “Planning for old age at a premium,” March 8, 2012 at (“After Monday’s column, . . . 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.“)

I am very concerned with where this is all going. I hope that Montana does not follow our lead to legalize assisted suicide.

Richard Wonderly,
Seattle, Washington