Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New Hampshire: Pro-Assisted Suicide Bills Go Down in Flames!

Today, HB 1216, which sought to decriminalize soliciting a suicide, and HB 1292creating an affirmative defense for a person who causes or aids another in committing suicide, went down in flames!  The votes were 259 to 45 and 232 to 59, respectively.

"Older people are no longer valued as they were before." (second letter)

Dear Editor:  

I am a high school student in Washington state, where assisted suicide is legal. I want to become a doctor. My mother is a caregiver. Sometimes, I help her with her clients.
I am writing to tell you about how older people are at risk in Washington, from doctors and hospitals. I will also talk about how attitudes about older people have changed for the worse. This is especially true since our assisted-suicide law was passed in 2008.
I grew up in an adult family home. An adult family home is a small elder care facility located in a residential home. The caregivers live in the home with the clients.
My parents and two of my brothers lived in the home. With the clients there, it was like having six grandparents at once. It was a very happy environment.
This was true for the clients, too, no matter what their condition was or how long they had to live. My mom could make them happy even when they were dying. The clients’ family members were supportive and seemed happy, too, and never suggested that one of the clients should die.
Today, in 2014, we no longer live in an adult family home. My mother is a caregiver for private clients. She also now fears for her clients, especially in the hospital. She is afraid that the hospital will begin “comfort care” (that’s morphine) and her patient will suddenly die. This has already happened. She tries to never leave her patients alone in the hospital. Either she or a family member will be there.
She has also had one client where a family member wanted the client to do the assisted-suicide.
In short, older people are no longer valued as they were before.
I hope that you will not follow our path.
— Elizabeth Poianna 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The High Financial Cost of (Regular) Suicides.

Dear New Hampshire House Members:

I am an attorney in Washington State where physician-assisted suicide is legal.  Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon.  I previously sent you materials, which can be viewed here

I write to discuss another factor for your consideration: Government reports from Oregon, showing a positive correlation between the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and an increase in other (regular) suicides. Of course, a statistical correlation does not prove causation.  The statistical correlation described herein, is, however, consistent with a suicide contagion (legalizing and thereby normalizing one type of suicide encouraged other suicides).  Please consider the following.

Oregon's assisted suicide act went into effect in 1997.  See top line at this link:

By 2000, Oregon's regular suicide rate was "increasing significantly"  See second paragraph, ("After decreasing in the 1990s, suicide rates have been increasing significantly since 2000"). 

By 2007, Oregon's other (regular) suicide rate was 35% above the national average. See second page at "A-57)

In 2010, the most recent report, Oregon's other (regular) suicide rate was 41% above the national average.  Moreover and per this report, the financial cost of these other (regular) suicides is huge.  The report, page 3, elaborates:
In 2010, there were 685 Oregonians who died by suicide and more than 2,000 hospitalizations due to suicide attempts.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Oregonians ages 15-34, and the 8th leading cause of death among all ages in Oregon.  The cost of suicide is enormous.  In 2010 alone, self-inflicted injury hospitalization charges exceeded 41 million dollars; and the estimate of total lifetime cost of suicide in Oregon was over 680 million dollars.  The loss to families and communities broadens the impact of each death.  (Footnotes omitted).
Oregon is the only state where there has been legalization of physician-assisted suicide long enough to have valid statistics showing this positive statistical correlation between assisted suicide legalization and other (regular) suicides.

The enormous cost of increased (regular) suicides in Oregon, positively correlated to physician-assisted suicide legalization, is a significant factor for the House to consider in its vote on HB 1325, which seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

For this and other reasons, I urge you to vote No in HB 1325.

Thank you.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754 main line
206 389 1562 direct line

"I hope that Connecticut does not repeat Oregon's mistake." (second letter)

I have been a professor of family medicine and a practicing physician in Oregon for more than 30 years. I write to provide some insight on the issue of assisted suicide, which is legal in Oregon, and which has been proposed for legalization in Connecticut (raised bill No. 5326).

Our law applies to “terminal” patients who are predicted to have less than six months to live.  In practice, this idea of “terminal” has recently become stretched to include people with chronic conditions, such as “chronic lower respiratory disease” and “diabetes”.  Persons with these conditions are considered terminal if they are dependent on their medications, such as insulin, to live.  They are unlikely die in less than six months unless they don’t receive their medications.  Such persons, with treatment, could otherwise have years or even decades to live.

This illustrates a great problem with our law — it encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives.

I am also concerned that by starting to label people with chronic conditions “terminal,” there will be an excuse to deny such persons appropriate medical treatment to allow them to continue to live healthy and productive lives.

These factors are something for your legislators to consider. Do you want this to happen to you or your family? Furthermore, in my practice I have had many patients ask about assisted-suicide. In each case, I have offered care and treatment but declined to provide assisted suicide. In one case, the man’s response was “Thank you.”

To read a commentary on the most recent Oregon government assisted-suicide report, which lists chronic conditions as the “underlying illness” justifying assisted suicide, please go here:

To read about some of my cases in Oregon, please go here:

I hope that Connecticut does not repeat Oregon’s mistake.

William L. Toffler
Portland, Ore.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake

I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician assisted-suicide is legal. I understand that Connecticut’s legislature is considering taking a similar step.
I was first exposed to this issue in 1982, shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited 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.”
Our assisted-suicide law was passed in 1997. In 2000, one of my patients was adamant she would use our law. Over three or four visits, I stalled her and ultimately convinced her to be treated instead. Nearly 14 years later she is thrilled to be alive.
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). Helpful treatments are often not covered. The plan will cover the patient’s suicide.
For more details, read my affidavit filed on behalf of the Canadian government at
Protect your health care. Tell your legislators to vote no on assisted suicide. Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.
Kenneth Stevens
Sherwood, Ore.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sign the Petition

Assisted Suicide: Sign the Petition

Citizens of all countries are free to sign this petition. My politics, for the record, are left and centrist. I believe in a view of society that is not simply utilitarian: every sentient life deserves our protection and care. My focus is not religious or moral — I am not religious — it is about the risk assisted suicide poses for the disabled and the elderly. 

When it comes to assisted suicide, I am a conscientious objector. Like those who oppose war, I oppose killing, even when it’s ‘mercy killing’. This is because I feel that mercy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Vulnerable individuals in our healthcare system may die prematurely — if we stop valuing their lives, we send the wrong message to policy-makers and healthcare workers.
It almost happened to my mother. It is now 2014 and she is still alive, even though we were strongly urged to ‘let her go’ in 2008. After going public with our hospital experience and speaking to other Canadian families, I discovered we were not alone. The elderly in Canada (and the U.K. and U.S.) are often hastened toward death, even when they are not terminally ill. I have spoken to many family members who believe this has happened to a parent or grandparent. 
Our Canadian government and national media outlets are not allowing for a full discussion of all the risks of assisted suicide. Attempts to do so have been discouraged and our arguments are not reaching the wider public. Even our nation’s broadcaster, the CBC, is unwilling to be impartial. It seems a concerted effort is being made to ‘manufacture consent’ in favour of assisted suicide.
A frank discussion about its risks is in order. 
Allowing our nation’s healthcare workers — physicians and nurses — to euthanize patients endangers all of us. And so I am a conscientious objector: I do not want a system that endangers my life and the lives of others. Canada is a first world nation and we have the resources to manage illnesses humanely. Patients have the right to refuse treatment or to ask for terminal sedation; good options already exist. 
I’m not sure what actions will follow from this petition, but objecting is a start. We need to get talking.