By Margaret Dore, Esq.
I am an attorney licensed to practice law in Washington State. I have been working against assisted suicide and euthanasia since 2008. I am also president of Choice is an Illusion and the Foundation for Choice is an Illusion.
Other than temporary absences, I have lived in Seattle all of my life, except for the last two years due to civil unrest, lockdowns, forced masking, etc.
I now live in Montana. I no longer have an office or home in Seattle. Many of you probably have similar stories of change or disruption over the last two years.
On the plus side, we can still celebrate our wins and obtain more wins in the future. But for this to be a reality, we have to look ahead and make changes to remain relevant. Otherwise, we risk going the way of the dinosaur.
Highlights of Our Work
1. The Jeanette Hall flyer
It is now 22 years since Dr. Ken Stevens talked Jeanette Hall out of assisted suicide in Oregon. I recently spoke to Jeanette, who wanted me to tell you that “it’s great to be alive!”
From an advocacy viewpoint, the Jeanette Hall flyer has been and continues to be one of our most effective advocacy pieces.
2. Compassion & Choices creamed
In 2010, Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices, published an article in the Idaho Bar Association magazine, The Advocate. The article referred to assisted suicide and euthanasia as “aid in dying,” which Tucker claimed was already legal in Idaho.
The reaction to her claim was swift and brutal. In the next issue of The Advocate, there were nine letters against her. The writers included a former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, Robert E. Bakes, who characterized her article as a “gross misunderstanding of Idaho law.” Another Idaho writer termed the article "malarkey."
I was given equal time to write an article opposing Tucker's position. There were subsequently yet more letters published against Tucker in The Advocate. Writers included: Former New Hampshire State Representative, Nancy Elliott, now deceased; Oregon doctors William Toffler, Kenneth Stevens and Charles Bentz; and Alex Shadenberg, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
Tucker’s effort to treat assisted suicide and euthanasia as already legal was stopped in its tracks. For more information, please go here.
3. The Choice is an Illusion newsletter
My third and last handout is a newsletter from 2018, to give you an idea of what we were able to do when I still had an office and staff in Seattle. The newsletter highlights our work in the world at large, including: New York; South Africa; New Jersey; Rhode Island; Connecticut; Montana; and Minnesota.
Why We Lost in Oregon
I wasn’t involved in the Oregon ballot measures, which eventually led to legal assisted suicide and euthanasia. Per my research, the Church and many caring individuals gave it their all to stop legalization.
In my view, the reason we lost was due to a lack of lawyers with expertise in reading and interpreting statutes. As an example, the proponents claimed that the Oregon Act was safe due to a requirement of self-administration by the patient himself or herself.
I heard this over and over again when I first got involved with the assisted suicide issue in 2008. I subsequently did a word search on the Oregon statute. The term, “self-administer,” is nowhere to be found. Our side did not have the legal expertise to read the statute.
Hanging in the Balance
The current situation is that we have been doing a decent job to hold back legalization in New England and elsewhere. On the other hand, we’ve lost the west coast, Colorado, Hawaii and New Mexico.
Going the Way of the Dinosaur
My last and final topic is that we’re older now. I, personally, have been fighting against assisted suicide and euthanasia for fourteen years. Dr. Toffler and other stalwarts have been working far longer than I have. So my point, we need to build a new generation to fight and win. Otherwise, we will go the way of the dinosaur. With all due respect, our fight will go extinct.