Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Big News From Montana. WE WON!

HB 505, which clarifies the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide, just passed second reading in the Montana House of Representatives!

The bill’s other purpose is to prevent the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Montana. 

The vote was 54 to 45!

Thanks you everyone for your help!

Way to go!!!!!

Margaret Dore, President
Choice is an Illusion,
a Nonprofit Corporation

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Losing the Will to Live: The ghastly murders in Newtown, Conn., reflect the prevalence of suicide here and across the globe.

Rebecca D. Costa6:41p.m. EST January 29, 2013
That's right. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about Khalid al-Mihdhar and 9/11, or James Eagan Holmes opening fire on movie-goers in Colorado, or more recently, Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old responsible for the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. We now know that in each of these cases, the assailants felt they no longer had a reason to live. And it is this unnatural state that enabled them to commit unimaginable acts. Once a person makes a decision to die, the most abhorrent atrocities become permissible. There are no longer any consequences to fear: no arrest, no jail, no trial, no families of the victims to face, no remorse, no nothing. Dead is dead.

Historical anomaly

Consider this: John Wilkes Booth didn't shoot up the Ford Theater. After aiming his gun at President Lincoln, he ran. He hid. He tried to get away. The same goes for Lee Harvey Oswald. He didn't open fire on the people who lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the president's motorcade. Even disturbed killers such as Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and John Wayne Gacy went to great lengths to keep their crimes hidden. Why? Because the drive to survive — to thrive, to propagate — is the strongest instinct among all living organisms. Self-preservation is a fundamental urge in nature. But in recent times, this instinct has gone awry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antidepressants are now the most prescribed drugs in the USA, climbing almost 400% from 1988-94 through 2005-08. Not surprisingly, the biggest jump is among preschoolers and adolescents. And if that isn't a clear warning of what lies ahead, then perhaps the fact that an estimated 1 million people in the U. S. report attempting to commit suicide each year — and that one succeeds every 14 minutes — will trigger an alarm. The number of people who no longer wish to live has been steadily rising in the past two decades, even before the recession. That suicide rate among military veterans we are so worried about? It is rising to civilian levels.

And it's not just the U.S. Globally, suicides have risen 60% in the past 45 years. We have a widespread affliction on our hands that is affecting the entire human race. An affliction we understand very little about. An affliction we continue to sweep under the rug and blame on guns, the economy and every other thing. An affliction that has become a preamble for mass murder.

Small actions don't help

I wouldn't go so far as to say that separating motive from means won't be helpful. We can and should make it difficult for unstable citizens to get a gun, rent a plane, build a bomb or have access to deadly poisons. But in terms of the bigger picture, these solutions look disturbingly similar to raising the debt ceiling, taxing the wealthy and claiming we've addressed our fiscal problems. Or drilling for more oil and behaving as if we'll never run out. We know these quick fixes are designed to ameliorate our immediate pain, but they don't go to the heart of the matter.

Today, fast-firing assault weapons grab international attention, but that is not what makes people like Adam Lanza so dangerous or what gives us reason to fear more such attacks; it's the fact that Lanza had no will to live. That's not a problem that can be solved by gun control or arming school guards.

It is a problem about people. The reach of the problem is far deeper. The CDC reports a million Americans try to kill themselves every year, but twice as many make plans to do it. While suicide claims a victim four times an hour, one of our friends, family members or neighbors thinks about it every two minutes.

If we have any hope of curbing tragedies such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, we must not allow rhetoric or short-term mitigation overshadow the opportunity to address the real culprit behind mass violence.

Thriving, happy, connected human beings don't use guns to harm others, no matter how plentiful. They don't fashion fertilizer or airplanes into bombs. And they don't need the government to regulate these things. Nature has designed us so that the will to live acts as a deterrent against anything that threatens our continuation — including opening fire in a public place.

Fix this, and it won't be long before gun control is superseded by self-control. And at the end of the day, isn't this a far more lasting alternative than surrendering hard-won liberties?

Rebecca D. Costa, author of The Watchman's Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse, is aformer CEO and founder of Silicon Valley start-up Dazai Advertising.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oregon's New Statistics

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

Oregon's assisted suicide statistics are out for 2012.[1]

This annual report is similar to prior years.  The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject.[2]

Oregon's assisted suicide law allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight.[3]  This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent, for example, when the patient is asleep.  Who would know?

The new Oregon report provides the following demographics:  

"Of the 77 DWDA deaths during 2012, most (67.5%) were aged 65 years or older; the median age was 69 years.  As in previous years, most were white (97.4%), [and] well-educated (42.9% had at least a baccalaureate degree) . . . ."[4]  Most (51.4%) had private health insurance.[5]

Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately victims of financial abuse and exploitation.[6]

As set forth above, Oregon's law is written so as to allow the lethal dose to be administered to patients without their consent and without anyone knowing how they died.  The law thus provides the opportunity for the perfect crime.  Per the new report, the persons dying (or killed) under that law are  disproportionately seniors with money, a group disproportionately victimized by financial abuse and exploitation.

Oregon's new report is consistent with elder abuse.


[1]  The new report can be viewed here: and
[2]  Id.
[3]  Oregon's law can be viewed here:
[4]  Report cited at note 1.
[5]  Id.
[6]  See "Broken Trust:  Elders, Family, and Finances," a Study on Elder Financial Abuse Prevention, by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, March 2009.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not Dead Yet: More on Double Euthanasia in Belgium

January 15, 2013 | posted by Stephen Drake

The 24+ hours since I posted on the double euthanasia of two deaf men in Belgium has resulted in some developments, varied reactions, and some reflection on my own part.  My apologies if this post seems a little scattered – a little like mental  multi-colored pasta thrown against the wall -  but sometimes that’s how my mind works.

First, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) issued a statement from Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the NFB:
“This disturbing news from Belgium is a stark example of the common, and in this case tragic, misunderstanding of disability and its consequences.  Adjustment to any disability is difficult, and deaf-blind people face their own particular challenges, but from at least the time of Helen Keller it has been known that these challenges can be met, and the technology and services available today have vastly improved prospects for the deaf-blind and others with disabilities.  That these men wanted to die is tragic; that the state sanctioned and aided their suicide is frightening.”
You can view the entire release and learn more about the NFB here.

At the same time, I’m sure that others have noticed that there are suicides getting a lot of coverage this week.  The Pentagon reports that deaths by suicide reached a record number in 2012, with more military deaths occurring due to suicide than from combat.  The suicide of programmer/activist/open source advocate Aaron Swartz – apparently overwhelmed by the double effects of depression and what is being called “overreaching” prosecution over his download of millions of journal articles.  He was faced with decades in prison and enormous fines.

Read through the comments on any of the countless articles covering these suicide stories and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone reacting like this:
  • “It’s their body, their choice.”
  • “When people decide they need to end it, they should be able to get help to do so.”
  • “It’s too bad they had to use violent means – animals can get euthanized; we treat animals better than humans.”
The lack of statements like those struck me because they’re common sentiments expressed in article “comments,” and interactions on Facebook when people react to “double euthanasia” of Marc and Eddy Verbessem, the identical twins whose deaths are still making news.

I think that we don’t see those comments in the cases of Aaron Swartz and the military because those people are valued.  I know that euthanasia proponents say that their movement is all about respecting individual choice, but why are the “choices” of  Marc and Eddy Verbessem “respected” while the suicides of military personnel and the suicide of Aaron Swartz are treated as preventable tragedies?  The answer, of course, is that euthanasia isn’t about “respect,” but agreeing that another person’s continued existence is pointless.

The animal comparisons always get me.  I’ve written before (with Dick Sobsey) about the myths surrounding the “kindness” of pet euthanasia.

What struck me this time was an even deeper disconnect.  Anyone who spends a lot of time on the internet knows that cats are probably the most popular thing in existence.  Some of the most popular pictures/videos of cats involve disabled cats – and dogs.  Right now, the most popular cat on the internet seems to be Oskar the Blind Cat:

If you look around, you’ll find stories of a deaf and blind dog rescued from euthanasia and a pet now for seven years and there’s even a story out there about a deaf/blind dog with three legs that rescued his family from a fire.

Oskar has lots of fans.  Stories like the ones about the dogs seem to make people just tear up and feel generally inspired.

But two deaf men losing their vision getting “put down”?  That evokes shrugs and even applause.

I don’t get it.  And I think I’m grateful I don’t. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chicago lottery winner's death ruled a homicide

From Kate Kelly:

It seems ageism is getting younger. The victim in this case was 46 years old. Note that, except for a concerned relative's persistence, this murder would have gone undetected. Apparently it is not considered "suspicious" when you die suddenly at 46 - even when you have "suddenly" become wealthy... 

By Jason Keyser, Associated Press 

CHICAGO (AP) — With no signs of trauma and nothing to raise suspicions, the sudden death of a Chicago man a day after he collected a large pile of lottery winnings was initially ruled a result of natural causes.
This undated photo provided by the Illinois Lottery shows Urooj Khan, 46, of Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, posing with a winning lottery ticket. The Cook County medical examiner said Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, that Khan was fatally poisoned with cyanide July 20, 2012, a day after he collected nearly $425,000 in lottery winnings.  (AP Photo/Illinois Lottery)
Urooj Khan with lottery ticket

Nearly six months later, authorities have a mystery on their hands after medical examiners, responding to a relative's pleas, did an expanded screening and determined that Urooj Khan, 46, died shortly after ingesting a lethal dose of cyanide. The finding has triggered a homicide investigation, the Chicago Police Department said.

"It's pretty unusual," said Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina, commenting on the rarity of cyanide poisonings. "I've had one, maybe two cases out of 4,500 autopsies I've done."

In June, Khan, who owned a number of dry cleaners, stopped in at a 7-Eleven near his home in the West Rogers Park neighborhood on the city's North Side and bought a ticket for an instant lottery game.

He scratched off the ticket, then jumped up and down and repeatedly shouted " I hit a million," Khan recalled days later during a ceremony in which Illinois Lottery officials presented him with an oversized check. He said he was so overjoyed he ran back into the store and tipped the clerk $100.  "Winning the lottery means everything to me," he said at the June 26 ceremony, also attended by his wife, Shabana Ansari; their daughter, Jasmeen Khan; and several friends. He said he would put some of his winnings into his businesses and donate some to a children's hospital.

Khan opted to take his winnings in a lump sum of just over $600,000. After taxes, the check, issued July 19 from the state Comptroller's Office, was about $425,000, said lottery spokesman Mike Lang.

Khan died a day later.

No signs of trauma were found during an external exam and no autopsy was done because, at the time, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office didn't automatically perform them on those 45 and older unless the death was suspicious, Cina said. The cut-off has since been raised to age 50.

A basic toxicology screening for opiates, cocaine and carbon monoxide came back negative, and the death was ruled a result of the narrowing and hardening of coronary arteries.

But a relative came forward and asked authorities to look into the case further, Cina said. He refused to identify the relative.

"She (the morgue worker) then reopened the case and did more expansive toxicology, including all the major drugs of use, all the common prescription drugs and also included I believe strychnine and cyanide in there just in case something came up," Cina said. "And in fact cyanide came up in this case."
Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton confirmed the department was now investigating the death and said detectives were working closely with the Medical Examiner's Office.  


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.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mass: Inclusion Key in anti suicide drive

By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, November 14, 2012

The anti-euthanasia movement found new life last week after voters in Massachusetts defied the conventional wisdom by rejecting a physician-assisted suicide initiative.

In a setback for the “aid in dying” movement, Question 2, known as the Death With Dignity initiative, lost by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent after leading by 68-to-20 in a poll released in early September by the Boston Globe.

The turnaround came after the “No on 2” camp fractured the liberal coalition that approved similar measures in Oregon and Washington by building a diverse campaign of religious leaders, medical professionals and advocates for the disabled along with a few prominent Democrats and a member of the Kennedy clan.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Compassion & Choices is a successor organization to the Hemlock Society"

I am a lawyer in Washington State where assisted-suicide is legal. Robert Zimorino’s letter encourages readers to contact Compassion & Choices, a promoter of assisted-suicide (“aid in dying”).
Your readers should know that Compassion & Choices is a successor organization to the Hemlock Society, originally formed by Derek Humphry. In 2011, Humphry was the keynote speaker at Compassion & Choices’ annual meeting here in Washington State.  In 2011, he was also in the news as a promoter of mail-order suicide kits from a company now shut down by the FBI.This was after a 29 year old man used one of the kits to commit suicide.

In 2007, Compassion & Choices was a plaintiff in Montana’s assisted-suicide case. Therein, Compassion & Choices requested legalization of assisted-suicide for “terminally ill adult patients.” The definition of this phrase was broad enough to include an otherwise healthy 18 year old who is insulin dependent or a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS. Such persons can live for decades with appropriate medical treatment.

Once someone is labeled “terminal,” an easy justification can be made that their treatment should be denied in favor of someone more deserving. Those who believe that legalizing assisted-suicide will promote free choice may discover that it does anything but.
Supporting authority not included in the published letter, below:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Massachusetts: Support withered for assisted-suicide ballot question

Over the next month, that support steadily eroded, and on Election Day the measure failed by a razor-thin 51-49 percent margin. 

How did a proposal that seemed sure to pass just five weeks before the election come up short? 

Joseph Baerlein, president of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, who handled public relations for the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, said the measure's opponents had to convince voters who supported the idea of assisted suicide that the bill before them was flawed. 

"We focused our campaign strategy on looking at those weaknesses," said Baerlein. "For us to have a chance to win, we would have to have some amount of voters who felt it was their right take another look, so they would see that this wasn't the right way to do it."

The Death with Dignity Act, or Question 2, mirrored legislation passed in Oregon and Washington state.