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, √≠mpulse 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.