Thursday, December 31, 2015

MP Albrecht condemns U.S. court ruling on teen’s suicide

http://www.therecord.com/news-story/6213725-mp-albrecht-condemns-u-s-court-ruling-on-teen-s-suicide/
              

Waterloo Region Record

Nadia Kajouji embraced
by her father 
KITCHENER — Local MP Harold Albrecht criticized a U.S. court ruling that overturned the conviction of a man charged with encouraging a Brampton teen to take her own life.

William Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse from Minnesota, was convicted in 2014 of attempting to assist the suicide of 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji, who died after jumping into the Rideau River in Ottawa in 2008.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday there wasn't enough evidence to uphold the conviction in the Carleton University student's death.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Quick Facts About Assisted Suicide - Updated

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
For a pdf version, please click here

1.  Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide means that someone provides the means and/or information for another person to commit suicide. When a physician is involved, the practice is physician-assisted suicide.

2. The Oregon and Washington Laws

In Oregon, physician-assisted suicide was legalized in 1997 via a ballot measure. In Washington State, a similar law was passed by another ballot measure in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.

3.  Problems With Legalization

The Oregon and Washington laws are a recipe for elder abuse and encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives. In Oregon, there are documented cases of the Oregon Heath Plan (Medicaid) steering patients to physician-assisted suicide via coverage incentives. Oregon’s conventional suicide rate has increased with legalization of assisted suicide, which is consistent with a suicide contagion. Patients and families are traumatized.

The Oregon and Washington laws require the death certificate to be falsified to reflect a natural death via a terminal disease, as opposed to the actual cause of death, a lethal dose. The significance is a lack of transparency and an inability to take legal action against overreaching parties.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Cost of Physician-Assisted Suicide.

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA*
Updated November 25, 2015 

It is often assumed that legalizing physician-assisted suicide will save states money. Don’t be so sure. In Oregon, legalization is correlated with an increase in other suicides, the cost of which is "enormous."

More Suicide

Oregon's law legalizing physician-assisted suicide went into effect “in late 1997.”[1] Since then, Oregon has reported a small, but steadily rising number of deaths.[2]

Oregon's other suicides, which are tracked separately, have also increased. Indeed, by 2000, Oregon's suicide rate for other suicides was "increasing significantly."[2] By 2007, Oregon's suicide rate for other suicides was 35% above the national average.[3] By 2010, Oregon's suicide rate for other suicides was 41% above the national average.[4]

The Financial Cost

The financial cost of these other suicides (and suicide attempts) is huge for Oregon, a smaller population state. The Oregon Health Authority states:
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. (Footnotes omitted).[5]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

People With Disabilities Are a High Risk Group for Suicide; Legal Assisted Suicide Discussed as a Contributing Factor.

By Margaret Dore

Thank you Stephen Mendelsohn, of Second Thoughts Connecticut, for providing this important
Stephen Mendelsohn
news.

The State of Connecticut Suicide Prevention Plan for 2020 includes people with disabilities and chronic health conditions as a high-risk group (similar to military veterans or the LGBT community) and discusses assisted suicide as a possible contributing factor to the problem. The Plan states:
Until recently, the [Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board] CTSAB was considering assisted suicide of the terminally ill as a separate issue from suicide prevention. The active disability community in Connecticut, however, has been vocal on the need for suicide prevention services for people with disabilities. 
The Plan goes on:
There may be unintended consequences of assisted suicide legislation on people with disabilities. Peace (2012) writes that "Many assume that disability is a fate worse than death. So we admire people with a disability who want to die, and we shake our collective heads in confusion when they want to live.” People with disabilities have a right to responsive suicide prevention services. The CTSAB intends to continue to explore the needs of the disability community for such services. (Emphasis added).
Plan, p. 44.

The Plan concludes with "Targeted Recommendations,"which push back against the idea of rational suicide for people with disabilities:
• Do not "assume" suicide is a "rational" response to disability.
• Treat mental health conditions as aggressively as with a person without disability. (Emphasis added)
Id.

German Jewry applauds defeat of liberalized assisted suicide laws

http://www.jta.org/2015/11/10/news-opinion/world/german-jewry-cheers-defeat-of-liberalized-assisted-suicide-laws

November 10, 2015 6:20am

(JTA) Assisted suicide laws will not be liberalized in Germany, a move that the country's Jewish community had vigorously opposed.

The Bundestag decided not to legalize organizations that promote or offer assisted suicide and to continue barring doctors from offering such assistance as a regular medical service.

Lawmakers instead toughened the national stance against commercialized assisted suicide. Such acts will now be punished with up to three years in jail, even if a doctor claims to have acted to relieve a patient's suffering. The bill was passed on Friday with 360 out of 602 votes, Reuters reported.

Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Bayerischen Rundfunk broadcasting company that he was "relieved" at the decision on easing assisted suicide laws "after a long, serious, and sometimes emotional debate."

Euthanasia is a particularly sensitive topic in Germany, as an estimated 200,000 people, most of them mentally and physically disabled, were murdered in the Nazi "euthanasia" program, their lives considered "unworthy" by the state.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Persons Living with HIV/AIDS: Is This What You Want?

By Margaret Dore, Esq

This is an updated version of an article I wrote three years ago in response to HIV/AIDS groups that had endorsed Ballot Question 2, seeking to legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts. The ballot question failed, but there is now a similar proposal pending in the Massachusetts legislature (H.1991). I suggest that these groups and persons living with HIV/AIDS give the new proposal a close look. 

1.  "Terminal" does not mean dying. 

H.1991 applies to persons with a "terminal illness," defined in terms of less than six months to live with or without treatment.[1] 

In the 1980's, HIV/AIDS was a death sentence. Today, we have people living with HIV/AIDS, who do well, but who are dependent on treatment to live. Some of these persons are "terminal" under H.1991, i.e., if, without treatment, they "can reasonably be expected to die within 6 months."[2] 

2.  The significance of a terminal label.

Once a person is labeled "terminal," an easy justification can be made that his or her treatment should be denied in favor of someone more deserving. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, "terminal" patients have not only been denied treatment, they have been offered assisted suicide instead. In a 2012 affidavit, Oregon doctor Kenneth Stevens put it this way:
Under the Oregon Health Plan [Medicaid], there is . . .  a financial incentive towards suicide because the Plan will not necessarily pay for a patient’s treatment. For example, patients with cancer are denied treatment if they have a "less than [two years] median survival with treatment" and fit other criteria. . . . 
All such persons . . .  will . . . be denied treatment. Their suicides under Oregon’s assisted suicide act will be covered."[3]
He also noted that some persons denied treatment as "terminal" would, if treated, in fact have years, even decades, to live. He stated: 
Some of the patients living longer than two years will likely live far longer than two years, as much as five, ten or twenty years depending on the type of cancer. This is because there are always some people who beat the odds.[4] 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dore Professional Commentary

http://jurist.org/hotline/2015/10/margaret-dore-physician-assisted-suicide.php
California's New Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?
JURIST Guest Columnist, Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Editor, Maria Coladonato



California has passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is scheduled to go into effect during 2016. "The End of Life Option Act" was sold as giving patients choice and control at the end of life. The bill, in fact, is about ending the lives of people who are not necessarily dying anytime soon and giving other people the "option" to hurry them along. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse and family trauma. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New York Daily News: Judge Rules Against Assisted Suicide

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/judge-rules-n-y-die-assisted-physician-article-1.2403502

BY , NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Monday, October 19, 2015, 8:54 PM
A Manhattan judge has denied the dying wish of three New Yorkers who wanted their doctors off the hook if they assisted in their suicides.

Steve Goldenberg, Sara Myers and Eric Seiff, who are all terminally ill, said they want nothing more than to be able to die in peace.

But for that, they said they need a little help, and don’t want their doctors to face any flak.

But state civil judge Joan Kenney said that while she was sympathetic to their plight, their doctors would have to stay on the sidelines.

Kenney said in her ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court has already found that New York state laws prohibit assisted suicide, and the statutes are not in violation of a patients civil rights.

“In New York, as in most states, it is a crime to aid another to commit or attempt suicide,” Kenney said in her ruling. “But patients may refuse lifesaving medical treatment.”

Thursday, October 8, 2015

California Killin'

by Paul © -- with apologies to the Mamas and Papas.


Signed by Jerry Brown on an autumn day.


Silencing the lambs, slaughter on the way.


It ain't safe no more; Redding to L.A.


California killin' such a tragic day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tennessee Decision Upholding Assisted Suicide Law.

Click here to view the Tennesee Chancery Court decision upholding criminal statute prohibiting assisted suicide, entered yesterday, September 29, 2015.

Judge rules against legalizing assisted suicide in Tennessee

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/davidson%20/2015/09/29/judge-rules-against-tn-assisted-suicide/73048034/

Lucas L. Johnson II, Associated Press, and Stacey Barchenger, The Tennessean6:12 p.m. CDT September 29, 2015

A former Democratic gubernatorial candidate who is terminally ill cannot die by assisted suicide, a judge ruled Tuesday, saying doctors engaging in such a practice are committing "criminal conduct."

John Jay Hooker has terminal cancer and has doctors who have expressed a willingness to prescribe him a lethal dosage of painkillers.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why California's ABX2-15 Must be Vetoed.

ABX2-15 seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in California. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse in which a "qualifying" individual may be legally murdered for the money. For more detail, see this memorandum and its attachments.  


KEY POINTS

1. ABX2-15 applies to people with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. (Memo, p.9). Such persons can, in fact, have years, even decades, to live. The more obvious reasons being misdiagnosis and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. (Id., pp. 11-12). Doctors can sometimes be widely wrong. (Id.).

2. In Oregon, which has a nearly identical definition of “terminal disease,” eligible persons include young adults with chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes. (Memo, p. 9-11). Such persons, with appropriate medical care, can have years, even decades, to live. 

3. ABX2-15 allows the patient's heir, who will financially benefit from his/her death, to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. (Memo, p. 7). This is an extreme conflict of interest.

4. Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. Not even a witness is required when the lethal dose is administered. If the patient protested or even struggled against administration, who would know? (Memo, pp. 8-9).

5. Assisted suicide can be traumatic for family members as well as patients. (Memo., pp. 12-13)

6. If California follows Washington State, the death certificate is required to be falsified to reflect a natural death. (Memo, pp. 16-18). The significance is a lack of transparency and an inability to prosecute for murder even in a case of outright murder for the money. Id. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

California: Contact the Governor now to stop assisted suicide/euthanasia.

Outright Lies to Trusting Legislators Gets California Bill to Governor's Desk.  Tell Jerry Brown to Veto ABX2-15 Now! 


  • Call 916-445-2841!
  • Fax 916-558-3160 
  • Use this form to send an e-mail to Governor Brown:  https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php  (US Mail will be too slow)

On Friday, September 11th, ABX2-15 passed the Senate just weeks after its initial introduction during a special session called for another purpose. During its short and expedited life, proponents ran roughshod on the facts to induce busy legislators to vote yes. This was evident during the final floor debate in the Senate where proponents repeatedly stated or implied the following, which are not true:

1.  That the bill is limited to people who are actively dying and in pain. The bill doesn't say this anywhere. The bill, instead, applies to people with a "terminal disease" defined as having a prediction of less than six months to live. (Memo, pp.9 -12). Such persons can, in fact, have years, even decades, to live.  (Id.) In Oregon, which has a nearly identical definition, "eligible" persons include young adults with chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes. (Id).

2.  That the bill is "one of the strongest bills regarding patient protections." The bill, however, doesn't even require a witness when the lethal dose is administered.[1] If the patient protested or struggled, who would know?[2] In addition, the bill's various legal "requirements" are not actually "required." This is because participants are merely held to a "good faith" standard.[3] This standard is not defined in the bill, but common meanings include that participants need not comply with legal technicalities when they have honest intent.  See, for example, this legal dictionary definition:
[Good faith means] honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fufill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled.  (Emphasis added).[4] 
For these and other reasons, tell Jerry Brown to veto ABX2-15. For more information, see: Dore letter discussing why the Baker amendments did not fix the bill's problemsDore memo why the financial cost of ABX2-15 could be "enormous"; and a formal memo regarding the bill generally, including "key points," an index, aformal memo and an appendix.

* * *
[1]  See ABX2-15 in its entirety.
[2]  Id.
[3]  ABX2-15, Sections 443.19(d), 443.14(b), 443.14(d)(1) and 443.15(c).
[4]  "Hill" citation at http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/good+faith

Friday, September 11, 2015

Governor Brown must veto assisted suicide legislation.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           
September 11, 2015        

Contact: Margaret Dore
206-697-1217

Sacramento, CA -- In light of today's final passage of assisted suicide legislation by the California State Senate, a national expert on assisted suicide and euthanasia made the following comments. 

"The legislation passed today is a wolf in sheep's clothing," said Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusionregarding ABX2-15, which seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide (and euthanasia) in California. "The bill is deceptively written to make it look as if there are substantial patient protections; there are not. The bill is sold as giving people choice and control at the end of life: Instead, it's stacked against the patient and applies to people with years, even decades, to live."

"In my law practice, I started out working in guardianships, wills and probate, and saw abuse of all kinds, especially where there was money involved (where there's a will, there are heirs)," Dore explained. "ABX2-15 sets up the perfect crime: your heir can actively participate in signing you up for the lethal dose and once the lethal dose is in the home, there's no oversight --not even a witness is required. If you resisted or even struggled, who would know?"

Dore concluded, "The ball is now in the governor's court to protect the people of California by vetoing ABX2-15. As a lawyer and a former attorney general, Jerry Brown has the expertise to see the bill for what it really is.  He has all the right reasons to veto this deceptive and unsafe legislation.

For documentation, see www.choiceillusion.org and www.californiaagainstassistedsuicide.org

Thursday, September 10, 2015

California Assisted Suicide Bill Narrowly Passes Assembly.

NEWS RELEASE

For the original print version, please click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2015

Contact: Margaret Dore
206-697-1217

Sacramento, CA – In light of today’s narrow passage of assisted suicide legislation by the California State Assembly, a national expert on assisted suicide and euthanasia points out a fundamental flaw with today’s floor debate.

“The assemblymembers didn’t focus on the bill’s language,” said Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, regarding ABX2-15, which is modeled on similar laws in Oregon and Washington State.  "The bill is sold as giving people choice and control at the end of life. Yet the bill’s language is stacked against the patient and applies to people with years, even decades, to live.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

No on ABX2-15: Voices Against Assisted-Suicide!

1. Carolyn McMurray:"Not everyone has family members to protect them."


3.   Oregon doctor, Kenneth Stevens, MD, "Vote against ABX2-15, in order to save people’s lives!"


5. Kate Kelly (“Doctors are already abusing the power they have").

6. Elizabeth Poiana (“Older people are no longer valued”)

Carolyn McMurray:"Not everyone has family members to protect them."

Dear Assemblymembers:

My husband and I recently moved from Vermont because we fear growing old in a state with legal assisted suicide.

Will Johnston, MD: "[My] young adult patient became actively suicidal after watching a Brittany Maynard video.”

Dear Assemblymembers:

I am a doctor whose young adult patient became actively suicidal after watching a  Brittany Maynard video.

I urge you to vote against legalizing assisted suicide so as to not encourage other young adults to seek this path.  

In the first week of December 2014, a mother brought in her twenty year old son for an emergency appointment.  She had told me that he had been acting oddly and talking about death.

Oregon Doctor Kenneth Stevens: "Vote against ABX2-15, in order to save people’s lives.”

Dear Assemblymembers:

I have been a cancer doctor in Oregon for 49 years.  I am opposed to legalized assisted suicide.

It encourages people to prematurely throw away their lives. The California bill ABX-15 is modeled after the Oregon law. It applies to people predicted to have less than six months to live.  That does not necessarily mean that they are dying.

Fifteen years ago I had a patient with inoperable anal cancer who wanted assisted suicide for herself, and who was refusing radiation and chemotherapy.  Because she was refusing treatment she was eligible for assisted suicide.  I encouraged her to be treated, which she later agreed to, and now she is very alive and happy 15 years later.

Dore: "Legal assisted-suicide can be traumatic for patients and tear families apart”

Dear Assemblymembers:

I am a lawyer in Washington State where assisted-suicide is legal. Our law is similar to a law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to ABX2-15, scheduled for hearing tomorrow.

I had two clients whose fathers signed up for assisted-suicide. In the first case, one side of the family wanted the father to take the lethal dose, while the other did not. The father 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.

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 client’s father refused to take the lethal dose when it was delivered (“You’re not killing me. I’m going to bed”), but then he took it the next night when he was high on alcohol.

Legal assisted-suicide can be traumatic for patients and tear families apart.

Kate Kelly: “Doctors are already abusing the power they have."

Dear Assemblymembers:

Please vote "No"on ABX2-15 (assisted suicide/euthanasia). Doctors are already abusing the power they have.  This bill, which will give doctors even more power to medically kill patients, can only make a bad situation worse.

In 2009, my mother died after a young doctor encouraged my brother, who held power of attorney, to begin “comfort care.”  My mother, who was NOT DYING, had had a mild stroke.  She had been trying to speak and had indicated that she would like some water.  Instead, on the order of this doctor, she was medically killed  (starved and dehydrated, with massive doses of morphine).

In that same year, I published my mother’s story . Since then, I have been contacted by other adult children in the US and Canada whose parents were  involuntarily killed via starvation, dehydration and overdose..

These involuntary deaths of people who were not dying are not isolated incidents.

Elizabeth Poiana to California Assembly: "“Older people are no longer valued.”

Dear Assemblymembers:

I am a college student in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.

My mother is a caregiver.  I also  work as a caregiver for typically older people.

I am writing to tell you about how older people are now at risk in Washington State, 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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Updated California Materials Against ABX2-15

To view new materials against ABX2-15, seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide, click here.

If the document is "too big," click here and here for the memo and its appendix as separate documents.

Overview 

ABX2-15, the “End of Life Option Act,” seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California is a recipe for elder abuse.  The bill is not limited to people who are dying.  Indeed, “eligible” persons can have years, even decades, to live.

In Oregon, which has a similar law, that state’s Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer people to suicide.  If ABX2-15 is enacted, California’s Medicaid program, as well as private insurers, will be able to engage in this same conduct.  Do you want this to happen to you or your family?

The bill has a myriad of other problems.  Please vote “No” on ABX2-15.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Prosecutor Press Release on FEN Sentencing in Minnesota; Charges Still Pending.

Final Exit Network, Inc. Sentenced in Assisting with Suicide.

8/24/15 

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Final Exit Network, Inc. (FEN) was sentenced today by Judge Christian Wilton to a stay of execution of 21 months in prison (while a corporate entity cannot be sent to prison, under Minnesota law this sanction establishes that the offense is a felony) and 15 years of probation, and ordered to pay a fine of $30,000 and approximately $3,000 in restitution in connection with assisting Doreen Dunn in committing suicide on May 30, 2007, at her home in Apple Valley.  FEN will remain on probation until the fine and restitution is paid.  On May 14, 2015, a Dakota County Jury found Final Exit Network, Inc. guilty of Assisting Another to Commit Suicide and Interference with a Dead Body or Death Scene.

Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found online at: Criminal Complaint Search.  To view prior news releases, go to: Attorney News Releases.

Final Exit Network Receives Maximum Sentence for Assisting Suicide

http://www.startribune.com/final-exit-network-fined-30-000-for-assisting-apple-valley-woman-s-suicide/322700141/

A Dakota County judge on Monday ordered Final Exit Network, a national right-to-die group, to pay a $30,000 fine and nearly $3,000 in funeral costs for assisting an Apple Valley woman’s 2007 suicide.
The sentence was the maximum Judge Christian S. Wilton could impose on the corporation for assisting a suicide.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Most States Have Rejected Assisted Suicide

In the last five years, four states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide. These states are: Arizona, Idaho, Georgia and Louisiana.

In the last 30 days, courts in New Mexico and California have rejected assisted suicide. The  New Mexico Court of Appeals struck down a lower court ruling that had allowed physician-assisted suicide. A California trial court declined to legalize physician-assisted suicide, holding that California's law prohibiting physician-assisted suicide is constitution.

This year, there have been 25 plus proposals to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the United States, not one of which has passed.[1]

There are just three states were physician-assisted suicide is legal: Oregon; Washington; and Vermont.  In a fourth state, Montana, case law gives doctors who assist a suicide a defense to a homicide charge; the doctor can still be charged.  In both Montana and Vermont, there are active movements to eliminate assisted suicide.[2]

* * *
[1]  Death with Dignity National Center
[2]  In Montana, SB 202, which would have legalized physician-assisted suicide was defeated; HB 477, which would have reversed the court decision giving doctors a defense to a homicide charge, passed the House.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2015/05/sb-202-dead.html and http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2015/03/hb-477-passes-house.html   See also www.truedignityvt.org

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

California's ABX2-15: Governor Not Impressed; Bill Is But A "New Number With the Same Song."

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

Yesterday, the deceptively named Compassion & Choices unveiled its "new" deceptively named End of Life Option Act to great fanfare in a press credentialed only press conference.

Governor Jerry Brown has already weighed in that the present special session "is not the appropriate venue to consider the issue."

The new bill, ABX2-15, is in substance an old bill (SB 128) that was unable to make it out of committee.

AB 15 has some new provisions and puts some of the old bill's provisions in a different order. ABX2-15 is in substance the same bill as the old bill. Key points include:
  • ABX2-15 applies to patients with a "terminal disease." In Oregon, which has a similar law, such persons include young adults with chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease. People living with HIV/AIDS, who are dependent on their medication to live, also qualify as "terminal." Such persons can have years, even decades, to live. 
  • Once a person is "labeled 'terminal,' an easy justification can be made that his or her treatment or coverage should be denied in favor of someone more deserving."[1] In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, patients are not only denied coverage for treatment, they are offered assisted suicide instead.[2] Well known cases are Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.[3]
  • The bill remains a recipe for elder abuse in which the patient's heir, who will financially benefit from his or her death, is allowed to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. This fact alone does not meet the "stink test." 
  • Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. Not even a witness is required at the death. If the patient struggled, who would know?
  • The death certificate is required to be falsified to reflect a natural death. The significance is a lack of transparency and an inability to prosecute for murder even in a case of outright murder for the money.

ABX2-15 is but a new number with the same song. Don't be fooled.

To view a detailed legal/policy analysis of ABX2-15, please click on the following links: Executive summary and indexMemo; and Appendix/Attachments.

* * *

[1] Opinion Letter by Richard Wonderly MD and Attorney Theresa Schrempp, available at https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/schrempp_wonderly_opn_ltr1.pdf
[2] Id.
[3] Id.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Memo to the California State Assembly: "No" on SB 128

The original pdf version of this memo has an executive summary and index, which can be viewed here. The attachments can be viewed here.


I. INTRODUCTION.

I am an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.[1] Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to the proposed California bill, SB 128.[2] 

Enactment of SB 128 will create new paths of elder abuse. “Eligible” patients will include people with years, even decades, to live.  

I urge you to reject this measure. Do not make Washington’s and Oregon’s mistake.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Mexico court strikes down ruling that allowed assisted suicide

The New Mexico Court of Appeals handed a defeat to the right-to-die movement Tuesday by striking down a lower-court ruling establishing physician-assisted suicide.
The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the district court had erred when it determined that “aid in dying is a fundamental liberty interest.”
“We conclude that aid in dying is not a fundamental liberty interest under the New Mexico Constitution,” said Judge Timothy L. Garcia in the majority opinion.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

California Prohibition Against Assisted Suicide is Constitutional.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

A California trial court has upheld the constitutionality of that state's criminal statute prohibiting assisted suicide, which states:
Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide, is guilty of a felony.
Penal Code § 401

The court's reasoning is contained in a 19 page "Ruling on Demurrer," filed on July 24, 2015. The ruling uses the term, "Aid in Dying" to mean physician-assisted suicide.  The term also means euthanasia. The court states in part:
Since "Aid in Dying" is quicker and less expensive, there is a much greater potential for its abuse, e.g,, greedy heirs-in-waiting, cost containment strategies, ímpulse decision-making, etc. Moreover, since it can be employed earlier in the dying process, there is a substantial risk that in many cases, it may bring about a patently premature death. For example, consider that a terminally ill patient, not in pain but facing death within the next six months, may opt for “Aid in Dying”' instead of working through what might have been just a transitory period of depression. Further, "Aid in Dying" creates the possible scenario of someone taking his life based upon an erroneous diagnosis of a terminal illness illness, which was, in fact, a mis-diagnosis that could have been brought to light by the passage of time. After all, doctors are not infallible.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Are Vermonters Being Pressured to Use Act 39?

From True Dignity Vermont

http://www.truedignityvt.org/from-the-netherlands-to-vermont-patients-under-pressure-to-die/

Around one in five patients who choose euthanasia in the Netherlands acts under pressure from family members, according to a leading expert on the ethics of assisted dying, as reported last week in Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/07/pressure-on-patients-is-cause-for-concern-euthanasia-expert/

According to the report, Professor Theo Boer, who teaches ethics at Groningen’s Protestant Theological University and has for nine years served as a member of one of five review committees that assess every euthanasia case, said, “Sometimes it’s the family who go to the doctor. Other times it’s the patient saying they don’t want their family to suffer. And you hear anecdotally of families saying: ‘Mum, there’s always euthanasia.’”

Here in Vermont, where physician-assisted suicide has been legal for just two years, cases of pressure are already starting to emerge, and it isn’t always family members providing the pressure. True Dignity has spoken with the family of a 90-year-old Medicaid patient who felt pressured by caregivers in the facility where she was admitted for recovery from a fall. The patient did not have a terminal diagnosis.

According to Beth Neill, clinicians at the Berlin Health and Rehab Center informed her mother at regular intervals during her 4-month stay there that she had a “right” to use Act 39, and that, “She didn’t even have to discuss it with her family.” It was the act of repeatedly bringing up Act 39 as a health care “option” that caused her mother to feel pressure, and not overt efforts by clinicians to convince her to request the lethal prescription, Neill said. However, she said her mother made it clear she wanted nothing to do with Act 39 and was disturbed that staff re-introduced the topic repeatedly.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Washington DC: "No" on B21-38.

Below please find the executive summary to my submission against the DC assisted suicide/euthanasia bill. To view the entire submission and its attachments, please click here and here.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

B21-38 is promoted as assuring patient choice and control, which is false.  Points addressed by this memo include:

  • There is a complete lack of oversight when the lethal dose is administered (even if the patient struggled, who would know?) 
  • The bill requires falsification of the death certificate to reflect a natural death.  The significance is a lack of transparency and an inability to prosecute even in a case of outright murder.
  • B21-38 will likely legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia for young adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes. 

Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, B21-38 is the wrong bill.

* * *

Thank you to everyone who donated and helped me to get this done. Please consider a generous donation to continue to make this work possible. Thank you again.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation.
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA 98154

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Laws allowing assisted suicide can have far-reaching impact

http://newsok.com/laws-allowing-assisted-suicide-can-have-far-reaching-impact/article/5434390/?page=2

The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: July 20, 2015


Advertisement
AN effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in California has been put on hold. The rationales that caused California lawmakers to rethink the proposal deserve attention elsewhere.

This is especially true of arguments put forth by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist who is director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California Irvine. Proponents of assisted suicide portray it as a humane solution for people in the last stages of painful, debilitating, terminal illnesses. But in a letter sent to California lawmakers, Kheriaty demonstrated that such laws can lead to death for a far wider, and often healthier, population.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Big Business" and Assisted Suicide

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA*

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez was recently quoted as concerned that big business would use California's assisted suicide proposal, SB 128, to "guide people in that direction," meaning early death via a lethal overdose.

This is a valid concern.

I am an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to SB 128, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in California.

In Oregon, it is well documented that Oregon's Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer people to suicide.  See Affidavit of Oregon doctor, Ken Stevens, pp 3-4 athttps://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf  With legal assisted suicide, private health plans have this same ability.  Dr. Stevens states:
If assisted suicide is legalized in [your state], your government health plan could follow a similar pattern.  Private health plans could also follow this pattern.  If so, these plans would pay for you and/or your family to die, but not to live.  (Emphasis added).
Id, ¶16.

Dr. Stevens also notes that the mere presence of legal assisted suicide steers people to suicide, which was the case with his patient Jeanette Hall.  Her cancer treatment was fully covered, but with the existence of Oregon's law, she nonetheless became adamant that she would kill herself.  Dr. Stevens convinced her to be treated instead.  (Affidavit, ¶¶ 5-9).  She is alive today, fifteen years later.

As for Assemblyman Hernandez's specific "big business concern," in 2013, a Montana State Senator made a similar observation:
I found myself wondering, Where does all the lobby money come from?  If it really is about a few terminally ill people who might seek help ending their suffering, why was more money spent on promoting assisted suicide than any other issue in Montana?
Could it be that convincing an ill person to end their life early will help health insurance companies save a bundle on what would have been ongoing medical treatment?  How much would the government gain if it stopped paying social security, Medicare, or Medicaid a few months early? [it could actually be years earlier].  How much financial relief would pension systems see?  Why was the proposed law to legalize assisted suicide [SB 220] written so loosely?  Would vulnerable old people be encouraged to end their life unnecessarily early by those seeking financial gain? 
http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/06/beware-of-vultures-senator-jennifer.html

Finally, there is the expansion issue. In Washington State, we have had informal "trial balloon" proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing one was in the Seattle Times, which is our largest paper. A column suggested euthanasia as a solution for people without funds in their old age, which could be any of us, say if the company pension plan went broke.**

Assemblyman Hernandez is right to be concerned about what could happen to his constituents if SB 128 is passed.

Don't let California make Washington and Oregon's mistake.  Urge your legislators to vote "NO" on SB 128.

///
             
* Margaret Dore is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington State Court of Appeals.  She is a former Chair of the Elder Law Section of the ABA Family Law Committee.  She also worked for a year with the United States Department of Justice.  She is president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.  To learn more, see www.margaretdore.com and www.choiceillusion.org

**  Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," The Seattle Times, March 8, 2012 ("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.") (Emphasis added).https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

California: SB 128 Defeated!

SB 128 Defeated!

The bill did not have the votes to go forward in Committee, and is reportedly dead for the year.

Special thanks to Nina Rhea, Mike Hodas and everyone else who went the extra mile to defeat the bill.

THANK YOU!

Margaret Dore

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Minnesota: Vote "NO" on SF 1880!

Here is a memo with attachments in opposition to SF 1880, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Minnesota.  Major points include:

  • There is no oversight at the death (even if the patient struggled, who would know?).
  • The death certificate will be falsified to reflect a natural death via a terminal disease (reducing transparency, and more importantly, preventing prosecution even in the case of outright murder)
  • "Eligible" people may have years, even decades, to live (people are encouraged to throw away their lives)

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S
Choice is an Illusion, a non-profit corporation
www.margaretdore.com
www.choiceillusion.org
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Legalize Doc Decides

Belgian GPs 'killing patients who have not asked to die': Report says thousands have been killed despite not asking their docto

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3120835/Belgian-GPs-killing-patients-not-asked-die-Report-says-thousands-killed-despite-not-asking-doctor.html   Steve Doughty, Social Affairs Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Thousands of elderly people have been killed by their own GPs without ever asking to die under Belgium’s euthanasia laws, an academic report said yesterday.

It said that around one in every 60 deaths of a patient under GP care involves someone who has not requested euthanasia.

Half of the patients killed without giving their consent were over the age of 80, the study found, and two thirds of them were in hospital and were not suffering from a terminal disease such as cancer.

In about four out of five of the cases, the death was not discussed with patients subjected to ‘involuntary euthanasia’ because they were either in a coma, they were diagnosed with dementia, or because doctors decided it would not be in their best interests to discuss the matter with them.

Very often doctors would not inform the families of plans to lethally inject a relation because they considered it a medical decision to be made by themselves alone, the report published by the Journal of Medical Ethics said.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Great News! Delaware Bill Tabled in Committee

Great News!

A Delaware State Representative just wrote me that their assisted suicide proposal, HB 150,  was tabled today in Committee.  (The bill is stuck in committee).

For more information, please go here:  http://legis.delaware.gov/

Margaret Dore

Delaware Talking Points

1.  HB 150 legalizes assisted suicide for persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having less than six months to live.  In Oregon, which uses the same definition, young adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes are "eligible" for assisted suicide.  Such persons can have years, even decades, to live.  Consider also, Jeanette Hall, who was adamant that she would do assisted suicide, but was convinced to be treated instead.  Today, nearly 15 years later, she is "thrilled to be alive."  See  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/04/if-kress-had-been-my-doctor-in-2000-i_27.html

2.  In Oregon, it is well-documented that Medicaid steers people to suicide through coverage incentives.  Private insurers have this same ability.  For more information, see the affidavit of Kenneth Stevens, MD, at this link:  https://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf

3.  Legalization of assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight.  Even if the patient struggled, who would know?

4.  In Oregon, other (conventional) suicides have increased significantly with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.  In Oregon, conventional suicides are a $41 million problem due to hospitalization costs, etc.  See http://www.choiceillusion.org/2014/03/the-high-financial-cost-of-regular.html  Legalization, regardless, sends the wrong message to young people that suicide is an acceptable solution to life's problems.

For a short article about Washington's similar law, please go here: https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Attorney slams California suicide bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Dore: “Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide, SB 128 is the wrong bill.”

Contact: Margaret Dore (206) 697-1217


Seattle, WA -- Attorney Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has fought assisted suicide legalization efforts in many states and now California, made the following statement after the California Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 128 on May 28, sending the assisted suicide bill to the Senate floor.

"SB 128 is sold as giving people an 'end of life option,’” Dore said. “The fact is this bill is about ending the lives of people who aren’t necessarily dying anytime soon, and giving other people the ‘option’ to hurry them along."

Dore, an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal, explained, “In my law practice, I started out working in guardianships, wills and probate, and saw abuse of all kinds, especially where there was money involved (where there's a will, there are heirs). Then, in 2008, I got dragged to a meeting about our assisted suicide law and saw the perfect crime: your heir could help sign you up, and once the lethal dose was in the house, there was no oversight. Not even a witness is required. If you struggled, who would know?"

Friday, May 29, 2015

Great News! Scottish Assisted Suicide Bill Defeated 82 to 36

A Scottish assisted suicide bill has been defeated in its parliament: 82 - 36.[1]

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/scotland/critics-blast-assisted-suicide-bill-1.878651

The Bill would have allowed those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to end their suffering with the assistance of another person, known as a "licensed facilitator".

It is being championed by Green MSP Patrick Harvie following the death of independent MSP Margo MacDonald in April 2014.

Alison Britton, convener of the Law Society's health and medical law committee, said the organisation was concerned that the Bill lacked clarity and would be difficult to enforce.

She said: "We have said throughout the passage of this Bill that legislation in this area needs to be absolutely clear and those seeking to end their lives, and those who assist them, need a robust and transparent process to be certain under which conditions it would be lawful for assistance to be provided.

"We remain concerned over the lack of definition of the key terms, such as 'assistance' and 'life-shortening' and the functions of the licensed facilitator are still uncertain.

"Lack of such clarity leads to ambiguity and leaves the legislation open to interpretation."

* * *

[1] Alex Schadenberg, at http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 18, 2015

Assisted Suicide: How One Woman Chose to Die, Then Survived

http://dailysignal.com/2015/05/18/assisted-suicide-how-one-woman-chose-to-die-then-survived/

Kelsey Harkness /
In 1994, Jeanne Hall, a resident of King City, Ore., voted in favor of Ballot Measure 16, which for the first time in the United States, would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives through physician-assisted suicide.

“I thought, hey, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer,” Hall told The Daily Signal. “So I checked it. Then it became legal.”

That day at the ballot box, Hall never could have predicted that more than 15 years later, she would be diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer.

Doctors gave Hall, who was 55 at the time, two options: She could get radiation and chemotherapy and attempt to fight the cancer, or she could take a lethal dose of barbiturates to end her life.

“I was calling it over,” she said. “I wasn’t going to do chemo. When I heard what might take place in radiation "I wasn’t going to do it. I looked for the easy way out.”

Without treatment, Hall was given six months to a year to live, and therefore qualified for physician-assisted suicide through Oregon’s Death With Dignity law.

“She was terminal because she was refusing treatment,” Dr. Kenneth Stevens, one of Hall’s two cancer doctors, told The Daily Signal. “It’s like a person could be considered terminal if they’re not taking [their] insulin or [other] medications.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Final Exit Network, Inc. Guilty in Assisting With Suicide

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that a Dakota County Jury has found Final Exit Network, Inc. guilty of Assisting Another to Commit Suicide and Interference with a Dead Body or Death Scene in connection with assisting Doreen Dunn in committing suicide on May 30, 2007 at her home in Apple Valley. The jury deliberated for less than two hours.  Judge Christian Wilton set the sentencing date for August 24, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in Hastings.  

Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found online at: Criminal Complaint Search. To view prior news releases, go to: Attorney News Releases.

Backstrom commented:  “What Final Exit Network does in aiding individuals suffering from serious medical conditions who, like Doreen Dunn, are not terminally ill but are extremely vulnerable or depressed, in taking their own lives and then covering up the truth about what occurred to the victim’s family, the medical examiner and law enforcement, is not only legally wrong it is morally reprehensible.  We are pleased to have brought this organization to justice for these crimes.”

Backstrom thanked the Apple Valley Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation who aided in the investigation of this case.  Backstrom also thanked Assistant County Attorney Elizabeth Swank and Chief Deputy Phil Prokopowicz who prosecuted the case.

Monday, May 4, 2015

California: Memo to Senate Appropriations Committee: "Vote 'NO' on SB 128: The financial impact is potentially 'enormous.'"

By Margaret K. Dore, Esq., MBA
To view a pdf version,  please click here.

A. Introduction

SB 128 seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide.  The bill is based on a similar law in Oregon, which was enacted in 1997.  In Oregon, the law is rarely used, but since passage, there has been a significant increase in other (conventional) suicides.  This increase is consistent with a suicide contagion in which legalization and promotion of physician-assisted suicide has led to an increase in other suicides.  Moreover, the financial cost is “enormous.”  A government report from Oregon states:
In 2010 alone, self-inflicted injury hospitalization charges exceeded 41 million dollars.
This Committee must vote NO unless the proponents can show that California will not have a similar increase in conventional suicides. Otherwise, the financial cost in California could be “enormous.”

Sunday, May 3, 2015

California: "SB 128 has the potential for a large and adverse financial impact."

LETTER submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee (edited for the web):
Please accept this cover letter and memo in opposition to SB 128 for the purpose of the May 11th hearing. 

Based on the "Oregon experience," passage of SB 128 has the potential for a large and adverse financial impact on the state of California.  The cover letter explains why as follows:
SB 128 seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide. 
In Oregon, which has had a similar law since 1997, legalization is statistically correlated with an increase in other suicides.  This increase is consistent with a suicide contagion in which the legalization of one type of suicide (physician-assisted) has led to an increase in other (conventional) suicides.  Moreover, the financial cost is "enormous."  A government report from Oregon states:
"In 2010 alone, self-inflicted injury hospitalization charges exceeded 41 million dollars."  (Emphasis added).
Here are the full links:  

https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dore-ltr-ca-sen-appr-com_001.pdf

https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/sb-128-senate-appropriations-memo-updated.pdf

Thank you for your consideration.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
www.choiceillusion.org 
www.margaretdore.com 
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA  98154