Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) Condemns Exclusion of Disabled People at NJ Hearing on Assisted Suicide Bill

http://www.notdeadyet.org/2014/12/autistic-self-advocacy-network-asan-condemns-exclusion-of-disabled-people-at-nj-hearing-on-assisted-suicide-bill.html

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network  (ASAN) has issued a statement condemning the exclusion of disabled people from testifying at yesterday’s (Dec.7) hearing on a proposed assisted suicide bill in front of the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee:
(Excerpt)
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is deeply concerned about the omission of disabled people and representatives from disability rights organizations at yesterday’s hearing. Given that more than half of the groups in the New Jersey coalition opposing the bill are disability rights organizations and centers for independent living, it is unconscionable that the committee deliberately excluded witnesses from the disability community. Even after our community submitted a formal request for inclusion among the witnesses, the committee declined to invite a disability community representative.

Read the entire statement here.

* * *

Margaret Dore, President of Choice is an Illusion, was also excluded despite multiple requests to participate.  So the proponents' deceptively named advocacy group,  Compassion & Choices, was allowed to present unopposed by its opposition counter-part, Choice is an Illusion.  To view a legal/policy memo opposing the proposed bill to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in New Jersey, please go here:  https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/a-2270-3r-memo-12-02-14.pdf

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Jersey: Updated Legal Policy Analysis for Bill; Stacked Deck Hearing on Monday

Please click here to see an updated legal policy analysis of New Jersey's pending assisted suicide/euthanasia bill, A 2270 (3R).

The bill is scheduled to be heard before a stacked deck, invitation only, hearing, as follows: 


The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will meet on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 1:00 PM in Committee Room 1, 1st Floor, State House Annex, Trenton, NJ.

The committee will hear testimony on A2270 (3R) / S382 from invited guests only; however, members of the public are invited to submit written testimony on the bills, to OLSAideSHH@njleg.org   

Margaret Dore

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.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Three bullet points against assisted suicide

1.  Legal assisted suicide encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives.  See: Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty":  Washington's new "Death with Dignity" law allows doctors to help people commit suicide - once they've determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they're wrong? The Seattle Weekly, January 14, 2009,  https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/terminal-uncertainty.pdf

2.  Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse, for example, in the inheritance context.  See this short bar article (non-lawyers say they like it): https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm 

3.  Once assisted suicide is legal, there is pressure to expand to euthanasia for non-terminal people, for example, to you or your family member, who through no fault of their own, falls on hard times: http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2014/10/this-is-how-society-will-pay-you-back_9.html

Friday, October 24, 2014

MAAS Demand Letter to People Magazine: "The risk of suicide contagion is real. The potential victims include children."

Dear Editor:

I represent Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS)

People Magazine’s coverage of Brittany Maynard breaks all recommended media guidelines for responsible reporting of suicide. The risk of suicide contagion is real.  The potential victims include children.  

It is well known that media reporting of suicide can encourage other suicides, sometimes called "copycat suicides," or more generally, a "suicide contagion."  A famous example is Marilyn Monroe, whose suicide death led to a suicide spike.

This encouragement phenomenon can also occur when the inspiring death is not a suicide.  An example is the televised hanging of Saddam Hussein, which led to suicide deaths of children worldwide. An NBC News article begins:    
The boys' deaths - scattered in the United States, in Yemen, in Turkey and elsewhere in seemingly isolated horror - had one thing in common:  They hanged themselves after watching televised images of Saddam Hussein's execution.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/16624940/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/copycat-hangings-follow-saddam-execution/#.VDr5AfldWS

Your coverage of Brittany Maynard is, of course, exponentially more intense and of broader range than that of Marilyn Monroe or Saddam Hussein.

As a major media organization, you are expected to be familiar with recommended guidelines for the responsible reporting of suicide. Important points include that the risk of additional suicides increases "when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage."  See http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/recommendations-for-reporting-on-suicide.shtml

Your coverage of Brittany Maynard's upcoming death violates all of these guidelines.  We are told of the planned method, when and where it will take place and who will be there.  There is repeated extensive coverage in multiple media.  Your website says that the story has gone "viral."

Meanwhile, People Magazine, in grocery stores everywhere, with children in line, glorifies Ms. Maynard's upcoming death.  Her photo is on the cover; she's beautiful and now she's one of your celebrities. In big white letters, there is this headline: "My Decision to Die." There are also these words, also in white, simple enough for a child to understand: "Why Brittany Maynard, 29, plans to end her life in less that three weeks."

According to your publication, Ms. Maynard is going to kill herself, and if you don't do something to change this suicide promotion trajectory, so will many other people.

Now you can write me back, and say, "Oh, but Ms. Maynard's not suicidal, it's different."
                   
Saddam Hussein wasn't suicidal and it wasn't different. Those boys died.

My client, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, hereby demands the following:
1.  That you immediately cease and desist your suicide promotion activity, which means removing all glorifying content from your website, grocery stores, wherever;
                                                    
2.  That you immediately add suicide prevention content to your publications, including  where to call for help; and
3.  That you in no shape or form promote Ms. Maynard's suicide if and when it occurs.
People Magazine celebrates the heroes among us.  It's time for People Magazine to show its integrity by this time being the hero among us to stop the contagion.

Sincerely,

Margaret Dore,
Attorney for Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS)

Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
www.margaretdore.com
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754 main reception
206 389 1562 direct line

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New York man hired to assist suicide sentenced to 12 years


By Laila Kearney 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man convicted of helping a debt-ridden motivational speaker commit suicide to make the death look like a robbery was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday, prosecutors said.

Kenneth Minor, 42, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month in the stabbing death of Jeffrey Locker in 2009, a spokeswoman with the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.

Locker, a 52-year-old motivational speaker, hired Minor to help him kill himself and make it look like a robbery so his family could collect life insurance payouts, prosecutors said.

Locker, who lived in suburban Long Island, New York, was deeply in debt and had taken out millions of dollars in insurance policies, they said.

Minor claimed he held a knife steady against a steering wheel in a car parked in Harlem while Locker repeatedly thrust himself onto the blade.

Minor was first convicted in 2011 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life, but a state appeals court order a retrial on grounds that the original judge improperly limited his use of an assisted suicide defense.

Defense attorney Daniel Gotlin said his client took the plea deal in state Supreme Court in Manhattan but he planned to appeal the new conviction.

Under New York law, assisted suicide is illegal and is considered manslaughter but can be used as a defense against stiffer murder charges.

"It's a ridiculous theory that you could have both cases tried together," Gotlin said.

Minor has already served five years of his prison sentence, Gotlin said.

The district attorney's office declined to comment.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Oregon and Washington, doctor could have closed the deal with a lethal prescription - who would have known?

Doctor wrote himself into 102-year-old patient's will: suit

http://nypost.com/2014/10/16/doctor-wrote-himself-into-102-year-old-patients-will-suit/

A prominent New York doctor swindled a 102-year-old Park Avenue patient, writing himself into her will and installing health care aides who mistreat the widow, a new lawsuit charges.

Donna Spears, a longtime friend of centenarian Helen Schlesinger, claims in her Manhattan civil suit that New York-Presbyterian physician Dr. Lawson Moyer has broken the law by both treating the 470 Park Ave. resident and appointing himself as her power of attorney.

“Moyer is making decisions for Helen that are not in her best interests,” Spears says in the suit.

Spears, of Wall Township, NJ, says she has known Schlesinger for 65 years. The frail woman, whose husband died in the 1950s, cannot get around on her own and requires 24-hour care.

In a 2003 will, Spears and a family member were designated to inherit the woman’s entire multimillion-dollar estate — save for a $10,000 bequest to the Salvation Army.

But shortly after Moyer became Schlesinger’s primary care doctor in 2010, the suit says, Schlesinger signed a new document “against [her] wishes” that left him $100,000, slashed Spears’ share to $25,000 and gave the rest to various charities.

Spears says Moyer hired nurses who have neglected and mentally abused the childless widow.

Spears wants a judge to appoint a guardian for Schlesinger.


Moyer did not return calls for comment.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What will happen to Brittany Maynard?

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

The suicide advocacy group, Compassion & Choices, is running a public relations campaign featuring the story of Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old woman with a brain tumor.  According to media reports, she intends to take her life under Oregon's assisted suicide law in the near future.[1]

Lovelle Svart

In 2007, there was a similar case in Oregon involving Lovelle Svart, which was also promoted by Compassion & Choices.  Svart, who had cancer, died at the end of a party in which she had been having a great time.  The party was reported in the Seattle Times, which described her as being in control.[2]  When it was time for her to die, however, she engaged in stalling behaviors ("a hugging line" and a cigarette break).  There was also this exchange between her and George Eighmey, a member of Compassion & Choices:
“Is this what you want?”
 “Actually, I’d like to go on partying,” Lovelle replied, laughing before turning serious. "But yes." 
The situation was similar to a wedding when it’s time to take your vows.  Everyone is watching and it's the thing to do.  Even if you're having second thoughts or would rather “go on partying,” you go forward.  If Eighmey had wanted to give her an out, he could have said:
“You're having so much fun, you don’t have to do this today or even next week.”
Instead, he closed her by guiding her to take the lethal dose, which killed her.

Will Ms. Maynard get her choice?

It may be hard to know.

Compassion & Choices, regardless, will have an interest in getting the best promotional material possible from her death.

* * *

[1]  Neal Colgrass, Newser staff, October 7, 2014, https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/29-year-old-woman_-why-im-taking-my-own-life.pdf 
[2] Don Colburn, “Last day of life all planned out, down to the polka,” October 26, 2007, available at http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2003918100_suicide02.html

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"This is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?"

I am a lawyer in Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal. Our law was passed by a deceptive ballot measure spearheaded by Compassion & Choices. Voters were promised that only the patient would be allowed to administer the lethal dose, which is false. Our law does say that the patient may self-administer the lethal dose, but there is no language saying that administration must be by self-administration. For more information, please go here:  https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm
Once assisted suicide is legal, there is pressure to expand. For example, here in Washington State, we have had “trial balloon” proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing one was a casual discussion in our largest paper suggesting euthanasia for people who didn’t save enough money for their old age. So, if you worked hard all your life, paid your taxes, and your pension plan went broke, this is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?
To view a copy of the newspaper column, please go here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf.
Protect yourselves and your families. Don’t let assisted suicide become legal in Montana.
Margaret Dore, president,
Choice is an Illusion,
Seattle, Washington

Monday, October 6, 2014

Assisters Can Have Their Own Agenda

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_d9ec8917-b025-5aad-97dd-0520559fde00.html

Greed, personal motives can influence 'choice' to commit assisted suicide . . .

A Roundup man was recently charged with “aiding or soliciting suicide” of a 16-year-old girl here in Montana. His apparent motive was to prevent her testimony against him in another matter, i.e., by getting her to kill herself. According to an Associate Press article, he coerced her to actually take steps towards that goal, which fortunately did not result in her death. See http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/convicted-rapist-charged-with-aiding-or-soliciting-suicide-of-victim/article_65c2f39c-ae01-5104-a279-da45b352ef42.html

Similarly, in Minnesota, a former nurse was recently convicted of assisting a young man to kill himself. Both the nurse and the Roundup man had used webcams to communicate with their victims. The nurse’s reported motive was the “thrill of the chase.” See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/suicideobsessed-us-nurse-convicted-of-helping-coventry-man-kill-himself-9722534.html.

These stories illustrates a fundamental problem with legalizing assisted suicide. The assisting person can have his or her own agenda to encourage a person to kill themselves. The “choice” will not necessarily be that of the victim/patient.

In my practice, where I have a high percentage of older patients, I have witnessed greed by family members over inheritances, including vicious battles over the death bed. This same motive of greed could lead to a coerced suicide, especially if assisted suicide were legalized in our state.

Let’s keep legal assisted suicide out of Montana.

Annie Bukacek,
Kalispell

Friday, October 3, 2014

Margaret Dore published in the Baltimore Sun

The letter below, published in the Baltimore Sun, describes the positive statistical correlation between legalizing physician-assisted suicide and the significant increase in other "regular" suicides in Oregon.  This is at great financial cost to that state.

For more detail and links to supporting documentation, please see: Letter from Margaret Dore to Members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, March 4, 2014, titled:  "The High Financial Cost of (Regular) Suicide."

* * *

The published letter:  Margaret Dore," Legalizing assisted suicide is a bad idea."

Alexa Fraser's recent commentary promotes the idea of legalizing physician-assisted suicide. . . .

The term "physician-assisted suicide" means that a physician provides the means or information to enable a patient to perform a life-ending act, such as through a lethal prescription.

The premise of Ms. Fraser's commentary is that legalization of physician-assisted suicide will eliminate other types of suicides, such as those resulting from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

This premise is not, however, supported by statistics from Oregon, which is the only state in which physician-assisted suicide has been legal long enough to have valid statistics over time.

The Oregon statistics support the conclusion that, if anything, "ordinary" suicides will actually increase if physician-assisted suicide were legalized in Maryland.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The perils of assisted suicide

I dispute commentator Alexa Fraser's claim that assisted suicide is legal in Montana. ("Political candidates should debate the right to die," Sept. 28),

I am president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, and we are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board over the status of assisted suicide in our state. MAAS is also seeking to overturn Montana's Baxter case, which gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a charge of homicide.

In Montana there was a recent case in which a man was charged with "aiding or soliciting" the suicide of a 16-year-old girl. He is accused of trying to prevent her from testifying against him in another matter by getting her to kill herself.

This story illustrates a fundamental problem with legalizing assisted suicide. The assistant can have his or her own agenda to encourage someone to kill themselves.

Bradley D. Williams, Hamilton, Mont.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bradley Williams uses Coombs Lee's own words to impeach her.

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/assisted-suicide-aid-in-dying-not-legal-in-montana/article_74b90390-44c3-11e4-84c0-471ac6661b95.html

This is my response to Barbara Coombs Lee’s rebuttal of my guest column, “Assisted Suicide is not legal, not the answer.” 
Coombs Lee is the president of Compassion and Choices and a former “managed care executive.” See maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/coombsleebio.pdf.
My guest column described how she and her organization tout themselves as promoters of individual choice when their actual mission is to reduce patient access to cures and to promote patient suicide as an alternative “treatment.” As proof, I used her own words from an opinion piece she had written in Oregon’s largest paper.
Therein, Coombs Lee had defended Oregon’s Medicaid program, which had declined to cover a cancer treatment for a patient named Barbara Wagner, and in lieu thereof, offered to cover Wagner’s “aid in dying” suicide. Coombs Lee also argued against Wagner’s choice to be treated and argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures generally. See her opinion piece here: maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/barbaracoombsleeagainstwagner1.pdf.
Coombs Lee’s rebuttal to my guest column does not deny that she defended Medicaid or that she argued for a public policy to discourage cures. Rather, she continues and reiterates these themes. Her rebuttal also claims that “aid in dying” is legal under Montana’s Baxter decision, which is not true. Indeed, this point was conceded by a member of her own organization during the 2011 legislative session.  Dr. Stephen Speckart, who was also a plaintiff in Baxter, testified on the record:
“[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.” 
https://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/speckharttestimony.pdf 
Sen. Anders Blewett, D-Great Falls, a lawyer, offered a similar opinion, that “there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”  See transcript at  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf
Assisted suicide is not legal and not the answer for Montana. Don’t be fooled.
Bradley D. Williams, president,
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide,
Hamilton

Friday, September 19, 2014

Montana: Convicted rapist charged with ‘aiding or soliciting suicide’ of victim

http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/convicted-rapist-charged-with-aiding-or-soliciting-suicide-of-victim/article_65c2f39c-ae01-5104-a279-da45b352ef42.html

September 18, 2014 6:00 am  • 

A Roundup man in Montana State Prison for having sex with an underage girl is facing a new charge alleging he pressured the girl to kill herself during a live video chat in September 2013.

Last week, the Musselshell County Attorney’s Office charged Michael John Morlan, 21, with aiding or soliciting suicide, and two other felonies — intimidation and tampering with witnesses and informants.

It is unclear whether anyone has ever been charged with or convicted of aiding or soliciting suicide in Montana. Musselshell County Attorney Kent M. Sipe was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Charging documents say Morlan contacted the girl, who is now 16 years old, via Skype, an online video-chatting service, on Sept. 1, 2013, and told her to kill herself while he watched.

The documents say Morlan told her he wanted to watch so that he could make sure she was doing it right.

The alleged victim reported to law enforcement that when she started crying, Morlan told her to stop wasting air and get it over with.

Court records, quoting the alleged victim, detail a back-and-forth conversation between the two in which Morlan repeatedly told her to kill herself and pressured her to continue as she cut herself and took prescription anti-depressants.

When she started cutting her wrists, Morlan told her to cut deeper, she said. The girl said she had prescription anti-depressants and put them in her hand. When she did this, she said, Morlan told her to take all of them.

She said she took the pills and then panicked, disconnected the Skype call and went to her parents for help.

About a year prior to this incident, Morlan had been charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent involving the same girl.

The charges alleged that Morlan had a sexual relationship with her from April 2011 — when she was 12 years old — through July 2012 and that he admitted to law enforcement that he digitally penetrated the girl on July 25, 2012.

Morlan was apparently out of jail after posting bond at the time he is accused of trying to coerce the girl to kill herself.

The girl reported that in August 2013, Morlan stalked and intimidated her when she tried to avoid communication with him.

She said he threatened to make her life miserable if she went to police and told her he had people watching her.

The girl told investigators that while at the youth center in Roundup a person, identified in charging documents as B.K., came up to her and told her to “quit telling everyone that Mickey raped you.”

In November, Morlan pleaded guilty to the two rape charges. District Judge Randal I. Spaulding sentenced him to 15 years in prison, with eight years suspended.

The judge also revoked Morlan’s sentence in a 2011 felony drug distribution case and sentenced him to an additional five-year commitment.

Morlan, who is being held at the state prison, is scheduled for arraignment in Musselshell County District Court on Sept. 22.

Aiding or soliciting suicide caries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Oregon doctor's experience leads him to warn Montanans not to accept assisted suicide

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_df457041-2d8f-5c56-92c8-05d08616234d.html

Dear Editor:

I am the doctor cited by Bradley Williams in his opinion piece, “Assisted suicide is not legal, not the answer.” (Aug. 21). I am also professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health & Science University. I have treated thousands of patients with cancer.

Williams correctly describes how Oregon’s Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer patients to assisted suicide, which is legal in Oregon. In other words, Medicaid will not necessarily cover a patient’s treatment to potentially cure a disease or to extend the patient’s life. The program will cover the patient’s suicide. Desired treatments for cure or to extend life are thereby displaced with the “treatment” of suicide.

I first became involved with the assisted suicide issue shortly before my first wife died of cancer in 1982. We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said, “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

To learn more about how assisted suicide works in Oregon, please see my affidavit filed in Montanans Against Assisted Suicide vs. Montana Board of Medical Examiners.  The affidavit, with supporting documentation attached, can be viewed here: https://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf .

Protect your health care. Don’t let legal assisted suicide come to Montana.

Kenneth Stevens,
Sherwood, Oregon

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Melchert-Dinkel Convicted!

Hopefully a relief for the families of Mark Drybrough and Nadia Kajouji.

http://www.startribune.com/local/274484921.html

Minnesota judge convicts ex-nurse of assisting suicide of English man he encouraged online

STEVE KARNOWSKI , Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - An ex-nurse who admitted going online and encouraging people to kill themselves was convicted Tuesday of assisting the suicide of an English man and attempting to assist in the suicide of a Canadian woman, following a legal battle[] that has spanned more than four years and led to the reversal of part of a Minnesota law that outlaws the practice.

Rice County District Judge Thomas Neuville ruled that the state proved that William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, assisted in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. He said the state failed to prove Melchert-Dinkel 's assistance was a direct cause of the suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, but found him guilty on a lesser charge of attempting to help her take her life.


To read more, click here.

To access Nadia's Light, founded in honor of Nadia Kajouji, click here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Montana: Letter Supporting Bradley Williams

I was glad to see Bradley Williams’ (Aug. 21) opinion piece disputing the false claim that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.
I retired from the Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans in Studio City, California, as the chief financial officer. One reason that I retired to Montana was that I had the perception that it was senior-citizen friendly, unlike Oregon and Washington, which have adopted laws allowing doctors and family members to assist them in killing themselves. That was repugnant to me.
Of course, now that I am in Montana, I find myself in a state targeted for the legalization of assisted suicide/euthanasia by the former Hemlock Society, now known as Compassion & Choices.
With Williams’ opinion piece describing the additional mission of that organization to discourage patient cures and to defend Medicaid against individual patient choices, I see that I have even more reason to be concerned about that organization’s agenda.
I have also read the opinion piece by Compassion & Choices President Barbara Combs Lee, which is referenced by Williams. That article can be viewed at this link: maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/barbaracoombsleeagainstwagner1.pdf.
Therein, Combs Lee not only discourages individual choices and defends Medicaid, she effectively argues that she and her organization know better than individual patients acting in conjunction with their doctors (page 2, paragraph 3). While I recognize that doctors can at times be wrong and not make the best decision, I don’t want her or her organization making decisions for me. It’s my life.
Let’s keep assisted suicide, euthanasia and the rest of Compassion & Choices’ agenda out of Montana.
Ted Friesen, Bigfork

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Washington Post Puts the Spotlight on Hospice/Palliative Care Abuse

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Choice is an Illusion, President

Below and finally, a comprehensive article in a major paper describing what a lot of us know already, that non-consenting, non-dying people are being killed with morphine and other drugs under the guise of hospice/palliative care.  The article, excerpted below from the Washington Post, describes cases in the US. There are similar cases in Canada and the UK (e.g, the former "Liverpool Pathway").

There are a myriad of reasons why these cases occur, including mistakes and negligence, which is described in the Post article.  The wishes of heirs interested in a speedy inheritance and/or to get dad out of the way before he changes his will, can also be at play.  For a particularly egregious example, see William Dotinga, "Grim Complaint Against Kaiser Hospital," at http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/06/43641.htm


With hospice, eligibility is determined by a prediction of less than six months to live.  This is the same eligibility cutoff used for legal assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington State.  This is, however, just a prediction and there are many people deemed eligible who live longer than that and/or who are not dying.  See, e.g., the Washington Post article excerpted below and this article from the Seattle Weekly: "Terminal Uncertainty."  See also this affidavit from Oregon doctor Kenneth Stevens, MD and this affidavit from John Norton.

This hospice/palliative care abuse issue is important for itself, as well, as for its implications in the larger debate over assisted suicide/euthanasia legalization.  Consider, for example, the letter below from Washington State.  The author, the owner of a care facility, describes how since passage of Washington's assisted suicide law, doctors more readily resort to morphine, sometimes without consent.  He states:
Since [Washington's assisted suicide law] passed, we have . . .  noticed that some members of the medical profession are quick to bring out the morphine to begin comfort care without considering treatment. Sometimes they do this on their own without telling the client and/or the family member in charge of the client's care. http://www.choiceillusion.org/2013/12/it-wasnt-father-saying-that-he-wanted.html
He also describes a general devaluation of older people, as follows:
Since our [assisted suicide] law was passed, I have also observed that some medical professionals are quick to write off older people as having no quality of life whereas in years past, most of the professionals we dealt with found joy in caring for them. Our clients reciprocated that joy and respect.  (Id.).
He concludes by asking readers to not make Washington's mistake of legalizing assisted suicide. He states:
Someday, we too will be old. I, personally, want to be cared for and have my choices respected. I, for one, am quite uncomfortable with these developments. Don't make our mistake.  (Id.).
* * *
Below, the excerpt from the Washington Post article.

As More Hospices Enroll Patients who Aren't Dying, Questions About Lethal Doses Arise

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/21/as-more-hospices-enroll-patients-who-arent-dying-questions-about-lethal-doses-arise/?

By Peter Whoriskey at peter.whoriskey@washpost.com

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bradley Williams takes on Compassion & Choices: Assisted suicide is not legal, not the answer.

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/assisted-suicide-is-not-legal-not-the-answer/article_445e36c4-2944-11e4-991c-001a4bcf887a.html

For a print version to use as a handout, please click here
For a follow up letter by Bradley Williams, please click here.

I take exception to the opinion by two members of the former Hemlock Society, now known as “Compassion & Choices.” The opinion of July 25 implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana, which is not true.

I am the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. We are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board. As part of that litigation, we got the board to remove a position paper from its website implying that assisted suicide is legal. Assisted suicide is not legal.
The “treatment” of suicide
As part of our litigation with the board, we also obtained an affidavit from Dr. Ken Stevens, of Oregon, which is one of the few states in which assisted suicide is legal. His affidavit describes how, in Oregon, that state’s Medicaid program uses legal assisted suicide to steer patients to suicide. This is through coverage incentives. The program will not necessarily cover a treatment to cure a disease or to extend a patient’s life. The program will cover the patient’s suicide. In other words, with legal assisted suicide, desired treatments are displaced with the “treatment” of suicide.  [To view Dr. Stevens' affidavit, go here]
Backing the establishment
The former Hemlock Society, Compassion & Choices, touts itself as the great promoter of individual choice. But if you take a closer look, its actual mission is to back the medical-government establishment.
Consider the well-publicized case of Oregon cancer patient Barbara Wagner. In 2008, Oregon’s Medicaid program declined to cover “Tarceva,” a cancer drug recommended by her doctor, and offered to cover her suicide instead, terming it “aid in dying.” Wagner was devastated.
“It was horrible,” Wagner told ABCNews.com. "I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die.  But we won't give you the medication to live." http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492
The drug’s manufacturer subsequently gave Tarceva to Wagner without charge. She, nonetheless, died a short time later.
I recently asked Stevens about Tarceva. He told me that some of his patients had taken it and that for some of them it was beneficial. This was in terms of survival and better quality of life. He also told me that it can be difficult to know how a particular cancer patient will do on a particular cancer drug. He said that there are always some patients who live longer than expected, sometimes 10 or even 20 years longer, depending on the type of cancer. He said, “This is because there are always some people who beat the odds.” Barbara Wagner had wanted to be one of those people.
After Wagner’s death, Compassion & Choices stepped forward to show its true colors. Specifically, its president, Barbara Coombs Lee, published an opinion in Oregon’s largest paper taking issue with Wagner’s choice to try and live. Coombs Lee argued that Wagner should have instead given up hope and accepted her pending death. But, this was not Wagner’s choice.  [To view Coombs Lee's opinion piece, go here]
In a KATU TV interview (www.katu.com/news/specialreports/26119539.html), Wagner had said: “I’m not ready, I’m not ready to die ... I’ve got things I’d still like to do.”
A public policy to discourage cures
Coombs Lee’s opinion piece also argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures. This would presumably be through coverage incentives. For example, she said: “The burning public policy question is whether we inadvertently encourage patients to act against their own self-interest, chase an unattainable dream of cure, and foreclose the path of acceptance that curative care has been exhausted.”  [See opinion piece, page 2]
Coombs Lee is a former “managed care executive.” See (http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/coombsleebio.pdf )
Your choice is not assured by their legislation. Don’t be fooled by their double-speak.
* * *
 Bradley Williams is president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org), a grassroots group and a Montana nonprofit public benefit association. MAAS welcomes everyone opposed to assisted suicide regardless of their views on other issues.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mother was deprived of choice to live; assisted suicide would lead to more patient abuse

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_09c08760-817c-571a-ada1-d42a0e2a3450.html?comment_form=true


August 18, 2014 6:15 am  

The letter by Gail Bell rang true to my own experience (“Mother’s death provided painful, personal example of need to stop assisted suicide,” Aug. 5).

In 2009, my mother died a painful death. It wasn’t from her condition or a disease. You see, my mother was starved and dehydrated to death with massive doses of morphine after she’d had a mild stroke. It had not mattered that she had been trying to speak and had indicated that she wanted water. The family member holding power of attorney, affirmed by a young doctor, had decided that it was time for her to die.

I watched my mother die, day and night for six days. She tried to fight, to wake up, but to no avail, and she suffered. To use the vernacular of assisted suicide proponents, she did not get her choice.

If these terrible deaths happen when aid in dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is not legal, what will happen if these practices are made legal? Doctors will have even more power to take away patient choice. If we can’t stop the abuse now, how will we be able to stop the abuse then?

In 2009, I first published my mother’s story, which can be viewed here www.choiceillusion.org/p/mild-stroke-led-to-mothers-forced.html.

I have since been contacted by adult children in both the U.S. and Canada whose parents were involuntarily starved and dehydrated to death. I hope that this practice can be stopped before it is too late. I offer my heartfelt condolences to Gail Bell.

Kate Kelly,
Delta, British Columbia, Canada

Friday, August 8, 2014

Minnesota prosecutors try to prove man's online chats assisted in suicides of depressed people


By Associated Press, Updated: August 8, 2014 - 2:20 PM

Image result for nadia kajouji
Nadia Kajouji,
FARIBAULT, Minn. — Prosecutors in Minnesota argued Friday that a former nurse should be convicted of assisting suicide for sending emails and other online communications in which he urged two people to kill themselves and gave them information on how to do it.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, was back in court more than three years after he was convicted of encouraging suicides. The Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this year reversed those convictions, saying the state's law against encouraging or advising suicides was too broad.

The high court however upheld part of the law that makes it a crime to assist someone's suicide, and attorneys for both sides returned to Rice County District Court to argue over whether Melchert-Dinkel's conduct qualified.

Melchert-Dinkel was originally convicted in 2011 in the deaths of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, and Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. Kajouji jumped into an icy river in 2008 and Drybrough hanged himself in 2005.

Evidence at that trial showed Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and sought out depressed people online, posing as a suicidal female nurse, faking compassion and offering detailed instructions on how they could kill themselves. Police said he told them he did it for "the thrill of the chase."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Montana's law protected me

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/physician-assisted-suicide-no-support-from-this-quadriplegic/article_96fd887e-1e47-11e4-8c4c-001a4bcf887a.html

I have read the guest column, "People living with disabilities support death with dignity" (July 25), which advocates for legalizing assisted suicide and/or euthanasia for the disabled. I could be described as such a person and this opinion does not speak for me. I am strongly against legalizing these practices.

When I was in high school, I was on track to get a basketball scholarship to college. And then, I was in a car accident. The accident left me in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic. In addition to my paralysis, I had other difficulties. Over the next two or three years, I gave serious thought to suicide. And I had the means to do it, but both times I got close, I stopped myself.

If instead, my doctor, an authority figure, had told me that ending my life was a rational course, there might have been a different result. If instead, he had given me a lethal dose to ingest or offered to euthanize me, I might have gone along with it. But assisted suicide and euthanasia were not legal in Montana. Such courses were off the table.

So, instead, I went to college to seek a degree in education. While in college, I participated in wheelchair racing at the state, national and international levels. I met my husband and 21 years later the honeymoon is not over. We have three beautiful daughters and a new baby granddaughter. I am also active in my community.

Montana's law protected me and I hope it will stay in place to continue to protect me and others as we go through the sometimes hard times of life.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be legal.

Lucinda Hardy, Columbia Falls