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 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.” This practice is resulting in the overdose deaths of non-dying people.
This is consistent with what I've been hearing from people in both the US and Canada regarding the deaths of their family members.
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.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
 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/?
 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
 To view a copy of the newspaper column, please go here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf.