Why Choice is an Illusion?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vermont: Vote "NO" on S.77

I am a lawyer and a Democrat from Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  I hope that you will vote "No" on S.77, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide.

 In 2011, I published an article in the Vermont Bar Journal, titled "Physician-Assisted Suicide:  A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice."  A copy can be viewed here:   http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/dore-vermont-bar-journal.pdf   

The flaws that I identified in the above article are present in S.77, with the most obvious being a complete lack of oversight over administration of the lethal dose.  This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the dose to the patient without his consent.  For example, when the patient is asleep (the drugs used are water and alcohol soluble so that they can be injected).

You may also be interested in the following: 

1.  A Legal Analysis

Two years ago, I performed a legal analysis of H.274 and S.103, which are essentially the same bill as the current S.77.  The flaws I identified in my analysis also exist in S.77 although some of the wording and citations are different.  To view that analysis, go here:  http://www.vermontagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/legal-analysis-of-h274-s103.html 

2.  The Thomas Middleton case

This is a case from Oregon in which physician-assisted suicide was part of an elder abuse fraud. See

3.  My cases

In my law practice, I have had two clients whose parents signed up for the lethal dose.

In one case, one side of the family wanted the parent to take the lethal dose while the other did not.  The parent spent the last months of his life traumatized and/or struggling over the decision of whether or not to kill himself.  My client was also traumatized.  The parent did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death.

In the other case, the parent reportedly refused to take the lethal dose at his first suicide party ("I'm going to bed.  You're not killing me") and was high on alcohol the next night when he took the dose at a second party.  The person who told this to my client then recanted, apparently concerned about his own criminal liability.  My client did not want to pursue the matter further.  As a lawyer, I couldn't help but notice that if the parent's much younger wife had divorced him, he would have got the house.  This way, she got everything. 

4.  Washington's "Expansion" Issue

In 2009, our assisted suicide law went into effect.  By 2011, there were newspaper proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal persons.  In 2012, a friend sent me this article suggesting euthanasia for people unable to afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia.  See Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," The Seattle Times, March 8, 2012, at  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017693023.html ("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). 

Don't make our mistake.

Margaret Dore
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA 98154 USA
206 389 1754