Updated May 8, 2013Dear Vermont Legislator:
This letter provides a legal analysis of the assisted suicide bill, S.77. To view my memo containing that analysis, click here. To view the memo's attachments, which include a copy of S.77, click here.
The memo's main points include:
1. The bill is not limited to people who are dying. Some of the people at issue will have years to live. The bill encourages such persons to throw away their lives.
2. The claim that the bill will assure patient control is untrue.
3. There is a complete lack of oversight over administration of the lethal dose, which allows it to be administered without patient consent (and without anyone knowing that administration was without patient consent).
4. The application process has problems: (1) an heir who will benefit from death is allowed to talk for the patient during the lethal dose request process; and (2) there is nothing to prevent an heir from procuring the patient's signature under circumstances that would constitute undue influence in the context of a will.
5. Legalization will create new paths of elder abuse. I give the example of Thomas Middleton in Oregon.
6. Guardians and Conservators will not be able to protect their wards from being pushed to suicide and/or other involuntary death.
7. Legalization will bring stress, trauma and fear (with examples from Oregon and Washington).
8. In Washington, where we have now had legal assisted suicide for just four years, we have already had proposals to expand our law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people. There has also been the the suggestion that we should employ euthanasia as a solution for people who can't afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia.
9. Any claim that legalization will end murder-suicide and/or violent suicides is baloney.