Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Massachusetts: "Don't be fooled by assisted-suicide bill"

http://www.lowellsun.com/editorials/ci_19137188
The Lowell Sun
Updated: 10/18/2011 09:27:53 AM EDT

This letter responds to Marie Donovan's article about the proposed Massachusetts death-with-dignity act, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide in your state (" 'Death with Dignity Act' renews end-of-life debate"). I am an attorney in Washington state, one of just two states where physician-assisted suicide is legal. The other state is Oregon. I am also president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide as an issue of public safety (
www.choiceillusion.org).

In both Washington and Oregon, assisted-suicide laws were passed via highly financed sound-bite, ballot-initiative campaigns. No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature -- despite more than 100 attempts. This year, a bill was defeated in the New Hampshire House, 234 to 99.

The proposed Massachusetts act is a recipe for elder abuse. Key provisions include that an heir, who will benefit financially from a patient's death, is allowed to actively help sign the patient up for the lethal dose. See e.g.,
Section 21 allowing one of two witnesses on the lethal-dose request form to be an heir (http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/Government/2011-Petitions/11-12.pdf  ).

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight over administration. The proposed act does not require that a doctor or anyone else be present at the time of death. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or another person who will benefit from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?

Donovan's article prominently features a discussion of religion. In Washington state, proponents used similar discussions and even religious slurs to distract voters from the pitfalls of legalization. What the proposed law said and did was all but forgotten.

Do not be deceived.

MARGARET DORE
Choice is an Illusion
Seattle, Wash.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hawaii: An Acknowledgement that the Claimed Legality is Bogus?

By Margaret Dore

Yesterday, the Honolulu Star Advertizer announced that Hawaii Representative Blake Oshiro was planning to "lead the charge" to promote assisted suicide legislation in 2012.[1]  The Advertizer elaborated that prior bills to legalize assisted suicide are "still alive" and that "[n]ew bills on the subject may also be introduced."[2]

Just two weeks ago, Oshiro chaired a panel of suicide advocates who claimed that assisted suicide is already legal in Hawaii.[3], [4]  If he believed that assisted suicide is already legal, why would he be planning to "lead the charge" to promote legislation to legalize it again?   

With the announcement of upcoming legislation, there is the implicit acknowledgement that the claimed legality is bogus? 

For more information and talking points about problems with legal assisted suicide, go here.

* * *

[1]  Jay Fidell, "Death with Dignity is Coming Back," The Star Advertiser, October 17, 2011, available at http://thinktech.staradvertiserblogs.com/2011/10/17/death-with-dignity-is-coming-back/
[2]  The Advertiser article refers to two legalization bills:  House Bill 1383 and Senate Bill 803.
[3]  The claim that assisted suicide was already legal in Hawaii was based on a brief written by Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices.  For a critique of that brief, click here. 
[4]  According to a post on the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society home page, the panel met on October 5, 2011.  (Last viewed today).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Massachusetts: Assisted Suicide is a Recipe for Elder Abuse; Do not be Deceived

By Margaret Dore

A ballot initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide via a "death with dignity" act is now in the signature-gathering stage in Massachusetts.[1]

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in just two states: Oregon and Washington.[2]  In both states, acts to legalize the practice were enacted via sound-bite ballot initiative campaigns.[3]  No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature.  Just this year, bills to legalize assisted suicide were defeated in Montana, New Hampshire and Hawaii.[4] Just this year, Idaho enacted a statute to strengthen its law against assisted suicide.[5]

The proposed Massachusetts act is a recipe for elder abuse.  Key provisions include that an heir, who will benefit financially from a patient's death, is allowed to participate as a witness to help sign the patient up for the lethal dose.  See Section 21 of the act, allowing one of two witnesses on the lethal dose request form to be an heir, available here.  This situation invites undue influence and coercion.

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight.  See entire proposed act, available here.  The act does not require witnesses when the lethal dose is administered.  See act here.  Without disinterested witnesses, an opportunity is created for an heir, or another person who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to him without his consent.  Even if he struggled who would know?

In Massachusetts, proponents are framing the issue as religious.  In Washington state, proponents used a similar tactic and even religious slurs to distract voters from the pitfalls of legalization.  What the proposed law said and did was all but forgotten.
        
        Do not be deceived.

* * *
Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  She is also President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide.  Her publications include Margaret K. Dore, "Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice," The Vermont Bar Journal, Winter 2011.
* * *
[1]  To view the proposed Massachusetts initiative, click here:  http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/Government/2011-Petitions/11-12.pdf
[2]  In Montana, there is a court decision that gives doctors who cause or aid a suicide, a potential defense to criminal prosecution for homicide.  The decision does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability.  To learn more, go here:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html  The assisted suicide promotion group, Compassion & Choices, has a new campaign claiming that assisted suicide is "already legal" in Hawaii.  This is an odd claim given that bills to legalize assisted suicide in Hawaii have repeatedly failed, most recently this year.  See here for the most recent billhttp://capitol.hawaii.gov/Archives/measure_indiv_Archives.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=803&year=2011
[3]  Oregon's physician-assisted suicide act was enacted via Ballot Measure 16.  Washington's act was enacted via Initiative 1000.
[4]  In Montana, SB 167 was tabled in Committee and subsequently died on April 28, 2011.  In New Hampshire, HB 513 was defeated on March 16, 2011.  In Hawaii, SB 803 was defeated on February 7, 2011 .
[5]  On July 1 2011, Idaho's new statute strengthening Idaho law against assisted suicide went into effect:   http://www.choiceillusionidaho.org/2011/07/idaho-strengthens-law.html

Friday, October 14, 2011

Compassion & Choices Embraces Derek Humphry

Compassion & Choices of Washington has announced that Derek Humphry will be the keynote speaker at its 2011 annual meeting.[1]

Derek Humphry has recently been in the news as a promoter of suicide kits from a company now shut down by the FBI.  According to an article in Oregon's Register-Guard newspaper: 

"A spotlight was cast on the mail-order suicide kit business after a 29-year-old Eugene man committed suicide in December using a helium hood kit. The Register-Guard traced the $60 kit to [the company, which] has no website and does no advertising; clients find [the] address through the writings of Humphry."[2]

With the choice of Humphry as its keynote speaker, Compassion & Choices shows its true colors? 
  
* * *

[1]  See current newsletter for Compassion & Choices of Washington, stating:  "Derek Humphry to be Keynote Speaker at 2011 Annual Meeting."  To view the newsletter, go to the following link and scroll down to the lower half of the page:  http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/derek.pdf
[2]  See e.g., Jack Moran, "Police kick in door in confusion over suicide kit:  The FBI message to police about the purchase of the gear failed to mention it was bought seven months ago, "  The Register-Guard, September 21, 2011.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Canada: Assisted Suicide Too Easily Abused

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Assisted+suicide+easily+abused/5525325/story.html

By John Coppard, Times ColonistOctober 9, 2011

Re: "Assisted dying should be an option," Oct. 4.

The danger in legalizing assisted suicide is that people's choices can so easily be undermined and abused. Whether it's greedy relatives hoping to speed up their inheritance, or cash-strapped bureaucrats looking to save on health-care costs, the weak and vulnerable can be all-tooeasily steered toward a death they do not truly want.

In Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal and the government health plan is empowered to steer patients to suicide, two cases have gained public prominence - Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Both wanted treatment, but their plan offered them suicide instead. Canadian laws prohibiting assisted suicide exist for a reason. Let's keep it that way.

John Coppard Victoria

Vermont: Bennington Banner: Suicide choice is an illusion

http://www.benningtonbanner.com/opinion/ci_19084377
Posted: 10/10/2011 10:26:03 PM EDT
Monday October 10, 2011

This letter responds to Dr. Guerrero's letter referring to an upcoming assisted suicide bill, which he discusses in terms of providing patient choice. Last March, I did a legal analysis of two assisted-suicide bills that were pending in your legislature. I previously analyzed two similar bills introduced in 2009.

None of these bills assured patient choice or control over their deaths. For example, there was no required supervision over administration of the lethal dose. The death was not even required to be witnessed. This created the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who would benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?


To view my most recent analysis, go here:  http://www.choiceillusionvermont.org/p/2011-bills.html To view my prior analysis, see Physician-Assisted Suicide: "A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice," Vermont Bar Journal, winter 2011, available at www.vtbar.org/Images/Journal/journalarticles/winter2011/PhysicianAssistedSuicide.pdf .

Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation www.margaretdore.com  [should be www.choiceillusion.org ]

MARGARET K. DORE

Seattle, Wash.