Showing posts with label assisted suicide; physician-assisted suicide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assisted suicide; physician-assisted suicide. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Declaration of Jeanette Hall 23 Years After She Was Talked Out of Assisted Suicide in Oregon

Jeanette with her son Scott, shortly
after she changed her mind

I, JEANETTE HALL, declare as follows:

1.  I live in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. Our law was enacted in 1997 via a ballot measure that I voted for.

2.  In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had 6 months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, Kenneth Stevens MD, but he didn’t really answer me. In hindsight, he was stalling me.

3.  I did not want to suffer. I wanted to do our law and I wanted Dr. Stevens to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight the cancer. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am happy to be alive!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Protect Health Care; Keep Assisted Suicide Out of Montana

April 22, 2013

I was disturbed to see the (April 7) opinion by Eric Kress promoting physician-assisted suicide. I am a cancer doctor with more than 40 years experience in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am also a professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health and Science University.

I first became involved with the assisted-suicide issue shortly before my first wife died of cancer in 1982. We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

In Oregon, the combination of assisted suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). First, there is a financial incentive for patients to commit suicide: the plan will cover the cost. Second, the plan will not necessarily cover the cost of treatment due to statistical criteria. For example, patients with cancer are denied treatment if they are determined to have “less than 24 months median survival with treatment” and fit other criteria. Some of these patients, if treated, would however have many years to live, as much as five, 10 or 20 years depending on the type of cancer. This is because there are always some people who beat the odds. The plan will cover the cost of their suicides.

In Oregon, the mere presence of legal assisted-suicide steers patients to suicide even when there is no coverage issue. One of my patients was adamant she would use the law. I convinced her to be treated instead. Twelve years later she is thrilled to be alive.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.

Kenneth Stevens, MD,
Sherwood, Ore.

Monday, December 31, 2012

"Assisted suicide in Washington and Oregon is a recipe for elder abuse and cloaked in secrecy"

By, Margaret Dore, Esq.  Supporting documentation follows letter, below.

Re: Susan Hancock, “Death with Dignity is about giving people choices" (Dec. 20, guest column):

I disagree with Susan Hancock’s description of how the Washington and Oregon assisted suicide laws work. I disagree that assisted suicide cannot be forced upon an unwilling person.

The Oregon and Washington assisted suicide acts have a formal application process. The acts allow an heir, who will benefit from the patient’s death, to actively participate in this process.

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. For example, there is no witness required at the death. Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir, or for another person who will benefit from the patient’s death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. One method would be by injection when the patient is sleeping. The drugs used in Oregon and Washington are water soluble and therefore injectable. If the patient woke up and struggled, who would know?

The Washington and Oregon acts require the state health departments to collect statistical information for the purpose of annual reports. According to these reports, users of assisted-suicide are overwhelmingly white and generally well-educated. Many have private insurance. Most are age 65 and older. Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately at risk of financial abuse and exploitation.

The forms used to collect the statistical information do not ask about abuse. Moreover, not even law enforcement is allowed to access information about a particular case. Alicia Parkman a mortality research analyst at the Center for Health Statistics, Oregon Health Authority, wrote me: “We have been contacted by law enforcement and legal representatives in the past, but have not provided identifying information of any type.“

Assisted suicide in Washington and Oregon is a recipe for elder abuse and cloaked in secrecy. Don’t make our mistake.

Supporting documentation below.

Margaret Dore,
Seattle, Wash.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide Pushes Legal Challenge Forward

By Margaret Dore

July 6, 2012, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) filed documents with the Montana Medical Examiner Board for the purpose of vacating Position Statement No. 20, titled "Physician Aid in Dying."  The documents filed included: "Summary of Legal Arguments Requiring Position Statement No. 20 to be Vacated as a Matter of Law," which states: 

"Position Statement No. 20 puts physicians and/or the public at risk by encouraging them to engage in illegal and tortious conduct that could result in their being charged with a crime and/or sued.  Statement No. 20 also puts vulnerable people at risk of being killed or steered to suicide by their heirs or  predators.  With these circumstances, the Board’s enactment of Statement No. 20 violates its duty to protect the public (and puts the Board itself at risk of liability)."

To view the above document in its entirety, read the text below or click here to read the hard copy filed with the Board.  Other documents filed with the Board included cover letter and a proposed order

The Text: 

1.  On March 16, 2012, the Board adopted a revised version of  Position Statement No. 20, which refers to “aid in dying” as a “medical procedure or intervention.”[1]

2.  The term, “aid in dying,” means assisted suicide and euthanasia.[2]

3.  On December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court issued Baxter v. State, 354 Mont. 234 (2009), which addressed a narrow form of “aid in dying.”  Baxter did not legalize “aid in dying,” although that fact is disputed by some proponents.[2]

4.  Position Statement No. 20 implies that “aid in dying” is confined to “end-of-life” matters.[4]  In Baxter, however, the plaintiffs sought to legalize assisted suicide for people who were not necessarily at the “end of life,” for example, an 18 year old who is insulin dependent.[5] 

5.  In the last [2011] legislative session, a bill seeking to legalize aid in dying, SB 167, was defeated.[6]

6.  The Medical Examiner Board derives its power from the Administrative Procedure Act, §§ 2-4-101 to 2-4-711, MCA, and other statutes such as § 37-1-307, MCA, which defines the authority of Boards in general.[7]  These statutes do not grant the Medical Examiner Board authority to interpret the meaning of a court decision such as Baxter.[8]  These statutes do not grant the Board the power to enact new legislation, for example, to legalize “aid in dying” as a medical procedure or intervention.

7.  Interpreting court decisions and enacting legislation are the province of the Judiciary and the Legislature, not the Board.  With these circumstances, the Board had no authority to adopt Position Statement No. 20, which effectively interpreted Baxter and/or effectively enacted new legislation to legalize “aid in dying.”  Position Statement 20 is null and void.

8.  The Board’s lack of authority is a lack of subject matter jurisdiction and requires Position Statement No. 20 to be vacated to the extent that it purports to legalize “aid in dying” and/or refers to “aid in dying” as an “end-of-life” matter.

9.  Position Statement No. 20 is also invalid and/or void in its entirety because it is a “rule” under the Administrative Procedure Act, which was adopted without attempting to comply with rulemaking procedures.[9]

10.  Position Statement No. 20 is also invalid and/or void in its entirety because there was no oral argument scheduled for members of the public to speak prior to its enactment.  § 2-4-302(4), MCA  states: “If the proposed rulemaking involves matters of significant interest to the public, the agency shallschedule an oral hearing.”  (Emphasis added).  A matter is of “significant interest to the public” if the agency knows it “to be of widespread citizen interest.”  In the case at hand, the record is overflowing with citizen input including more than 3000 signatures opposed to assisted suicide.[11]  The Board knew of “widespread citizen interest” as a matter of law.  The Board adopted Position Statement No. 20 without previously scheduling oral argument for the public.  For this reason also, the statement is null and void.  

11. Position Statement No. 20 is also null and void because it purports to expand a physician’s scope of practice to include “aid in dying.”  This is the function of the Legislature, not the Board.  Board of Optometry v. Florida Medical Association, 463 So.2d 1213, 1215 (1985).

12.  Position Statement No. 20 puts physicians and/or the public at risk by encouraging them to engage in illegal and tortious conduct that could result in their being charged with a crime and/or sued.  Statement No. 20 also puts vulnerable people at risk of being killed or steered to suicide by their heirs or  predators.  With these circumstances, the Board’s enactment of Statement No. 20 violates its duty to protect the public (and puts the Board itself at risk of liability).

13.  For the above reasons, Position Statement No. 20 is null and void as a matter of law.  It must be vacated and removed from the Board’s website." 
* * *
[1]  The revised statement [titled Physician Aid in Dying] says: "The Montana Board of Medical Examiners has been asked if it will discipline physicians for participating in  aid-in-dying.  This statement reflects the Board’s position on this controversial question. [paragraph break] The Board recognizes that its mission is to protect the citizens of Montana against the unprofessional, improper, unauthorized and unqualified practice of medicine by ensuring that its licensees are competent professionals.  37-3-101, MCA.  In all matters of medical practice, including end-of-life matters, physicians are held to professional standards.  If the Board receives a complaint related to physician aid-in-dying, it will evaluate the complaint on its individual merits and will consider, as it would any other medical procedure or intervention, whether the physician engaged in unprofessional conduct as defined by the Board’s laws and rules pertinent to the Board."  [To view the statement of the Board's website, click here.] 
[2]  Model Aid-in-Dying Act, § 1-102(3),  Note the letters “euthan” in the link. 
[3]  See Greg Jackson Esq. and Matt Bowman Esq., “Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability,” Spring 2010 (“the Court's narrow decision didn't even "legalize" assisted suicide”), available at; statement by Dr. Stephen Speckart conceding that assisted suicide is not legal under Baxter (“[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision"), at [the following link with a similar statement by Senator Anders Blewett]; statement by Senator Anders Blewett conceding that a doctor who assisted a suicide could be prosecuted under the Baxter decision (“under current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution”), at; and The Montana Lawyer, November 2011 (featuring pro-con articles by Senator Blewett and Senator Jim Shockley), available at
[4]  Id.
[5]  See opinion letter from attorney Theresa Schrempp and Dr. Richard Wonderly to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, October 22, 2009 (attaching the plaintiffs’ interrogatory answers with a definition of “terminally ill adult patient” broad enough to include “an 18 year old who is insulin dependent”).  (Attached hereto at B-1 to B-3). [To view, click here]
[6] See Detailed bill information page, attached hereto at B-4. [To view, click here]
[7]  For more information about the Administrative Procedure Act and other statutes, see Memorandum dated May 2, 2012, pp. 1-2, pp. 8-10.  A copy of the Act and other statutes are attached thereto at A-1 through A-28
[8]  Id.
[9]  See Memorandum dated May 2, 2012, pp. 8-10. [To view citation, use link at note 7, above]
[10]  § 2-4-102(12)(a). 
[11]  Memorandum dated May 2, 2012, p. 3; attachments at A-37 to A-45.  [To view citations, use links at note 7, above]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Massachusetts: Legal Challenge to Ballot Measure

Disability Rights Group Challenges Language for Assisted Suicide Ballot Measure as "Misleading, Inaccurate, and Euphemistic"

CONTACT  John Kelly 617-536-5140 

(BostonMA) – On Thursday, May 17, 2012, Massachusetts voters including members of the disability rights group Second Thoughts filed a challenge before the Supreme Judicial Court regarding the proposed ballot language for the measure that, if approved, would legalize assisted suicide in the state.

"The ballot language is clearly misleading," said Second Thoughts director John Kelly of Boston. "We want the voters ofMassachusetts to know exactly what they are voting on this November," he said.

The petition asks the Supreme Judicial Court to remand the language to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Secretary of State William Galvin with the requirement that they amend the language for clarity and accuracy.

"The ballot language repeats the problems of the bill itself," said Second Thoughts member Paul Spooner of Taunton. "The title is euphemistic, with the word ‘medication’ twisted beyond recognition. People will be led to believe that the measure is about palliative care, when it is about taking a lethal overdose -- in other words, poison. Why not just call the act by its common and legal name, 'physician-assisted suicide?'"

"The way 'terminally-ill' is used in the description is clearly misleading ," said Kelly, "people will be encouraged to assume that being 'terminally ill' is a biological fact, rather than a human guess."

"People with disabilities are very familiar with so-called terminal diagnoses," said Second Thoughts member John Norton of Florence. "Everyone knows someone who has outlived their terminal diagnosis -- I was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease as a teenager; I'm alive and well fifty years later.  The ballot language misleads by implying that a 'terminally-ill' diagnosis actually leads to death within six months.  Instead, it should say ‘diagnosed as terminal’ or something similar in terms of accuracy."

"And what about choice?," asked Spooner. "There are no safeguards to protect patients from having the poison given to them by an heir or abusive caretaker. No witnesses are required under the law, so if someone else were to administer the drugs, who would know?"

The language submitted by the Attorney General Martha Coakley and Secretary of State is:

Title: Prescribing Medication to End Life [11-12] - Petition G
A YES VOTE would enact the proposed law allowing a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life.

Second Thoughts has taken a leading role in opposing the ballot measure, and has been featured in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and on local TV and radio.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Washington Assisted Suicide Report: No Information About Consent

By Margaret Dore

Washington assisted suicide act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.[1]  During the election, proponents claimed that its passage would ensure individuals control over their deaths.  A glossy brochure declared, "Only the patient — and no one else — may administer the [lethal dose]."[2]  The Act, however, does not say this anywhere.

Today, the Washington State Department of Health issued its annual report about Washington's act.[3]  That report, similarly, does not demonstrate that individuals are in control. The report provides no information as to whether the people who died under the act consented and/or acted voluntarily at the time of death.  The report instead talks about "ingestion" of the lethal dose.  A drug can be "ingested" while a person is asleep, sedated and/or not aware of his or her surroundings.

For more information about Washington's act, See Margaret Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," Bar Bulletin, May 2009.[4]  

* * *
[1]  Washington's act was passed by in November 2008 as Initiative 1000 and has now been codified as RCW chapter 70.245.
[2]   I-1000 color pamphlet, "Paid for by Yes! on 1000."
[3]  See News Release here and report here.
[4]  Further information can be viewed here.