Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Connecticut Bill Dead!

Assisted suicide bill won't be voted on

[For a legal and policy analysis against the bill, please click here]

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 25, 2014 - 7:32 pm EDT

HARTFORD, Connecticut — A bill that would allow Connecticut physicians to prescribe medication to help terminally ill patients end their lives won't be voted on during this year's legislative session, the co-chairman of the General Assembly's Public Health Committee said Tuesday.

Windham Rep. Susan Johnson said Tuesday there is not enough time to address various outstanding issues with the bill. This year's short legislative session ends May 7.

"We worked very hard on that bill and there's a lot of work left to do," Johnson said.

This marks the second year in a row that the Public Health Committee has held a public hearing on such legislation and committee members did not take a vote.

Johnson said the Judiciary Committee is better suited to tackle certain outstanding issues with the bill, such as determining a patient's competency, whether they're under any duress, and how they can be protected from people with criminal intentions.

"Those kinds of things need to be ironed out," she said.

Proponents vowed to return with another bill next year, when there will be a longer legislative session.

"I'm very sorry that we're not able to move the bill further this year," said Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford. "We heard from people who wanted it badly."

Ritter said she was pleased, however, by the attention paid to the issue this year, adding how "the discussion just exploded across the state." Tim Appleton, the state director of the advocacy group Compassion and Choices, said he expects support will grow more between now and next year's legislative session.

Opponents have questioned the level of support for the bill, claiming outside groups are pushing the issue in Connecticut. They've vowed to fight future bills.

"The collateral damage from legalizing assisted suicide — including massive elder abuse, the deadly mix with a cost-cutting health care system steering people to suicide, misdiagnosis and incorrect prognosis, suicide contagion, and disability discrimination in suicide prevention — is simply not fixable," said Stephen Mendelsohn, of Second Thoughts Connecticut.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Assisted suicide is a "prescription for abuse"

I am a former three-term state representative in New Hampshire. Just last week, our House of Representatives voted down an assisted-suicide law similar to Connecticut's Raised Bill No. 5326. The vote was an overwhelming 3 to 1 defeat, 219 to 66.

In New Hampshire, the House is controlled by the Democrats. The vote against assisted suicide was strongly bipartisan and included libertarians. Many representatives, who initially thought that they were for the law, became uncomfortable when they studied it further.

Contrary to promoting "choice" for older people, assisted suicide laws are a prescription for abuse. They empower heirs and others to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. This is especially an issue when the older person has money. There is no assisted suicide bill that you can write to correct this huge problem.

Do not be deceived.

Nancy Elliott Merrimack, NH
Publication: The Day

Published 03/18/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 03/17/2014 04:33 PM

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Connecticut: Dore Letter and Memo to Committee

Dear Committee Members:

I am a Democrat and a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  Our law is modeled on a similar law in Oregon.  Both laws are similar to H.B. No. 5326.

Below are highlights to a memo I wrote, providing a legal analysis of  H.B. No. 5326.  To view the memo, please click here.

1.  H.B. No. 5326 is a recipe for elder abuse

  • "Financial considerations [are] an all too common motivation for killing someone." (memo, page 7)
  • Your heir, who will financially benefit from your death, is allowed to act as a witness on the lethal dose request form.  See  H.B. No. 5326, Section 3 (allowing one of two witnesses to be an heir)
  • There is a complete lack of oversight once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy.  Not even a witness is required.  Even if you struggled, who would know?

2.  H.B. No. 5326 encourages people to throw away their lives.

  •  H.B. No. 5326 applies to patients with a "terminal illness," which is defined in terms of a doctor's prediction of less than six months to live. (memo, pages 4-5).
  •  In Oregon, a similar definition is being interpreted to include people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.  (Id.)
  • The six months to live is determined without treatment.  Consider, for example, my friend, Jeanette Hall, who had cancer and who was adamant that she would "do" Oregon's law.  Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead.  She is thrilled to be alive today, nearly 14 years later.  (memo, pages 5-6)

3.  H.B. No. 5326 will allow health care providers and insurers to steer people to suicide

4.  I have had two clients whose fathers signed up for the lethal dose. 

  • In the first case, one side of the family wanted the father to take the lethal dose, while the other did not.  He  spent the last months of his life caught in the middle and traumatized over    whether or not he should kill himself.  My client, his adult daughter, was also traumatized.  The father did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death.  (Memo, page 22)
  • In the other case, it's not clear that administration of the lethal dose was voluntary.  A man who was present told my client that the father refused to take the lethal dose when it was  delivered (?You?re not killing me.  I?m going to bed?), but then took it the next night when he was high on alcohol.  The man who told this to my client later recanted.  My client did not want to pursue the matter further. (Memo, pages 22-3)
  • Do you want this to happen to you or your family?

5.  Two weeks ago, a similar bill was defeated by a 3 to 1 margin

  •  On March 6, 2014, the New Hampshire House, which is controlled by the Democrats, defeated a bill similar to H.B. No. 5326.  
  • The vote was 219 to 66. 
  •  Please click here

I urge you to not make Washington's mistake.

Please vote No on H.B. 5326.

Thank you.

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Live Free or Die! New Hampshire Obliterates Oregon-Style Death with Dignity Act!

Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives defeated HB 1325. The bill had sought to enact an Oregon-style assisted suicide law in New Hampshire. The bipartisan vote was an overwhelming 219 to 66.

To view a short testimony against the bill, click here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New Hampshire: Pro-Assisted Suicide Bills Go Down in Flames!

Today, HB 1216, which sought to decriminalize soliciting a suicide, and HB 1292creating an affirmative defense for a person who causes or aids another in committing suicide, went down in flames!  The votes were 259 to 45 and 232 to 59, respectively.

"Older people are no longer valued as they were before." (second letter)

Dear Editor:  

I am a high school student in Washington state, where assisted suicide is legal. I want to become a doctor. My mother is a caregiver. Sometimes, I help her with her clients.
I am writing to tell you about how older people are at risk in Washington, from doctors and hospitals. I will also talk about how attitudes about older people have changed for the worse. This is especially true since our assisted-suicide law was passed in 2008.
I grew up in an adult family home. An adult family home is a small elder care facility located in a residential home. The caregivers live in the home with the clients.
My parents and two of my brothers lived in the home. With the clients there, it was like having six grandparents at once. It was a very happy environment.
This was true for the clients, too, no matter what their condition was or how long they had to live. My mom could make them happy even when they were dying. The clients’ family members were supportive and seemed happy, too, and never suggested that one of the clients should die.
Today, in 2014, we no longer live in an adult family home. My mother is a caregiver for private clients. She also now fears for her clients, especially in the hospital. She is afraid that the hospital will begin “comfort care” (that’s morphine) and her patient will suddenly die. This has already happened. She tries to never leave her patients alone in the hospital. Either she or a family member will be there.
She has also had one client where a family member wanted the client to do the assisted-suicide.
In short, older people are no longer valued as they were before.
I hope that you will not follow our path.
— Elizabeth Poianna 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The High Financial Cost of (Regular) Suicides.

Dear New Hampshire House Members:

I am an attorney in Washington State where physician-assisted suicide is legal.  Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon.  I previously sent you materials, which can be viewed here

I write to discuss another factor for your consideration: Government reports from Oregon, showing a positive correlation between the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and an increase in other (regular) suicides. Of course, a statistical correlation does not prove causation.  The statistical correlation described herein, is, however, consistent with a suicide contagion (legalizing and thereby normalizing one type of suicide encouraged other suicides).  Please consider the following.

Oregon's assisted suicide act went into effect in 1997.  See top line at this link:

By 2000, Oregon's regular suicide rate was "increasing significantly"  See second paragraph, ("After decreasing in the 1990s, suicide rates have been increasing significantly since 2000"). 

By 2007, Oregon's other (regular) suicide rate was 35% above the national average. See second page at "A-57)

In 2010, the most recent report, Oregon's other (regular) suicide rate was 41% above the national average.  Moreover and per this report, the financial cost of these other (regular) suicides is huge.  The report, page 3, elaborates:
In 2010, there were 685 Oregonians who died by suicide and more than 2,000 hospitalizations due to suicide attempts.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Oregonians ages 15-34, and the 8th leading cause of death among all ages in Oregon.  The cost of suicide is enormous.  In 2010 alone, self-inflicted injury hospitalization charges exceeded 41 million dollars; and the estimate of total lifetime cost of suicide in Oregon was over 680 million dollars.  The loss to families and communities broadens the impact of each death.  (Footnotes omitted).
Oregon is the only state where there has been legalization of physician-assisted suicide long enough to have valid statistics showing this positive statistical correlation between assisted suicide legalization and other (regular) suicides.

The enormous cost of increased (regular) suicides in Oregon, positively correlated to physician-assisted suicide legalization, is a significant factor for the House to consider in its vote on HB 1325, which seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

For this and other reasons, I urge you to vote No in HB 1325.

Thank you.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754 main line
206 389 1562 direct line

"I hope that Connecticut does not repeat Oregon's mistake." (second letter)

I have been a professor of family medicine and a practicing physician in Oregon for more than 30 years. I write to provide some insight on the issue of assisted suicide, which is legal in Oregon, and which has been proposed for legalization in Connecticut (raised bill No. 5326).

Our law applies to “terminal” patients who are predicted to have less than six months to live.  In practice, this idea of “terminal” has recently become stretched to include people with chronic conditions, such as “chronic lower respiratory disease” and “diabetes”.  Persons with these conditions are considered terminal if they are dependent on their medications, such as insulin, to live.  They are unlikely die in less than six months unless they don’t receive their medications.  Such persons, with treatment, could otherwise have years or even decades to live.

This illustrates a great problem with our law — it encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives.

I am also concerned that by starting to label people with chronic conditions “terminal,” there will be an excuse to deny such persons appropriate medical treatment to allow them to continue to live healthy and productive lives.

These factors are something for your legislators to consider. Do you want this to happen to you or your family? Furthermore, in my practice I have had many patients ask about assisted-suicide. In each case, I have offered care and treatment but declined to provide assisted suicide. In one case, the man’s response was “Thank you.”

To read a commentary on the most recent Oregon government assisted-suicide report, which lists chronic conditions as the “underlying illness” justifying assisted suicide, please go here:

To read about some of my cases in Oregon, please go here:

I hope that Connecticut does not repeat Oregon’s mistake.

William L. Toffler
Portland, Ore.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake

I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician assisted-suicide is legal. I understand that Connecticut’s legislature is considering taking a similar step.
I was first exposed to this issue in 1982, shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited 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.”
Our assisted-suicide law was passed in 1997. In 2000, one of my patients was adamant she would use our law. Over three or four visits, I stalled her and ultimately convinced her to be treated instead. Nearly 14 years later she is thrilled to be alive.
In Oregon, the combination of assisted-suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). Helpful treatments are often not covered. The plan will cover the patient’s suicide.
For more details, read my affidavit filed on behalf of the Canadian government at
Protect your health care. Tell your legislators to vote no on assisted suicide. Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.
Kenneth Stevens
Sherwood, Ore.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sign the Petition

Assisted Suicide: Sign the Petition

Citizens of all countries are free to sign this petition. My politics, for the record, are left and centrist. I believe in a view of society that is not simply utilitarian: every sentient life deserves our protection and care. My focus is not religious or moral — I am not religious — it is about the risk assisted suicide poses for the disabled and the elderly. 

When it comes to assisted suicide, I am a conscientious objector. Like those who oppose war, I oppose killing, even when it’s ‘mercy killing’. This is because I feel that mercy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Vulnerable individuals in our healthcare system may die prematurely — if we stop valuing their lives, we send the wrong message to policy-makers and healthcare workers.
It almost happened to my mother. It is now 2014 and she is still alive, even though we were strongly urged to ‘let her go’ in 2008. After going public with our hospital experience and speaking to other Canadian families, I discovered we were not alone. The elderly in Canada (and the U.K. and U.S.) are often hastened toward death, even when they are not terminally ill. I have spoken to many family members who believe this has happened to a parent or grandparent. 
Our Canadian government and national media outlets are not allowing for a full discussion of all the risks of assisted suicide. Attempts to do so have been discouraged and our arguments are not reaching the wider public. Even our nation’s broadcaster, the CBC, is unwilling to be impartial. It seems a concerted effort is being made to ‘manufacture consent’ in favour of assisted suicide.
A frank discussion about its risks is in order. 
Allowing our nation’s healthcare workers — physicians and nurses — to euthanize patients endangers all of us. And so I am a conscientious objector: I do not want a system that endangers my life and the lives of others. Canada is a first world nation and we have the resources to manage illnesses humanely. Patients have the right to refuse treatment or to ask for terminal sedation; good options already exist. 
I’m not sure what actions will follow from this petition, but objecting is a start. We need to get talking.