Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Big Business" and Assisted Suicide

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA*

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez was recently quoted as concerned that big business would use California's assisted suicide proposal, SB 128, to "guide people in that direction," meaning early death via a lethal overdose.

This is a valid concern.

I am an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to SB 128, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in California.

In Oregon, it is well documented that Oregon's Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer people to suicide.  See Affidavit of Oregon doctor, Ken Stevens, pp 3-4 at  With legal assisted suicide, private health plans have this same ability.  Dr. Stevens states:
If assisted suicide is legalized in [your state], your government health plan could follow a similar pattern.  Private health plans could also follow this pattern.  If so, these plans would pay for you and/or your family to die, but not to live.  (Emphasis added).
Id, ¶16.

Dr. Stevens also notes that the mere presence of legal assisted suicide steers people to suicide, which was the case with his patient Jeanette Hall.  Her cancer treatment was fully covered, but with the existence of Oregon's law, she nonetheless became adamant that she would kill herself.  Dr. Stevens convinced her to be treated instead.  (Affidavit, ¶¶ 5-9).  She is alive today, fifteen years later.

As for Assemblyman Hernandez's specific "big business concern," in 2013, a Montana State Senator made a similar observation:
I found myself wondering, Where does all the lobby money come from?  If it really is about a few terminally ill people who might seek help ending their suffering, why was more money spent on promoting assisted suicide than any other issue in Montana?
Could it be that convincing an ill person to end their life early will help health insurance companies save a bundle on what would have been ongoing medical treatment?  How much would the government gain if it stopped paying social security, Medicare, or Medicaid a few months early? [it could actually be years earlier].  How much financial relief would pension systems see?  Why was the proposed law to legalize assisted suicide [SB 220] written so loosely?  Would vulnerable old people be encouraged to end their life unnecessarily early by those seeking financial gain?

Finally, there is the expansion issue. In Washington State, we have had informal "trial balloon" proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing one was in the Seattle Times, which is our largest paper. A column suggested euthanasia as a solution for people without funds in their old age, which could be any of us, say if the company pension plan went broke.**

Assemblyman Hernandez is right to be concerned about what could happen to his constituents if SB 128 is passed.

Don't let California make Washington and Oregon's mistake.  Urge your legislators to vote "NO" on SB 128.

* Margaret Dore is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington State Court of Appeals.  She is a former Chair of the Elder Law Section of the ABA Family Law Committee.  She also worked for a year with the United States Department of Justice.  She is president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.  To learn more, see and

**  Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," The Seattle Times, March 8, 2012 ("After Monday's column, . . . a few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out. At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.") (Emphasis added).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

California: SB 128 Defeated!

SB 128 Defeated!

The bill did not have the votes to go forward in Committee, and is reportedly dead for the year.

Special thanks to Nina Rhea, Mike Hodas and everyone else who went the extra mile to defeat the bill.


Margaret Dore

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Minnesota: Vote "NO" on SF 1880!

Here is a memo with attachments in opposition to SF 1880, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Minnesota.  Major points include:

  • There is no oversight at the death (even if the patient struggled, who would know?).
  • The death certificate will be falsified to reflect a natural death via a terminal disease (reducing transparency, and more importantly, preventing prosecution even in the case of outright murder)
  • "Eligible" people may have years, even decades, to live (people are encouraged to throw away their lives)

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S
Choice is an Illusion, a non-profit corporation
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Legalize Doc Decides

Belgian GPs 'killing patients who have not asked to die': Report says thousands have been killed despite not asking their docto   Steve Doughty, Social Affairs Correspondent for the Daily Mail

Thousands of elderly people have been killed by their own GPs without ever asking to die under Belgium’s euthanasia laws, an academic report said yesterday.

It said that around one in every 60 deaths of a patient under GP care involves someone who has not requested euthanasia.

Half of the patients killed without giving their consent were over the age of 80, the study found, and two thirds of them were in hospital and were not suffering from a terminal disease such as cancer.

In about four out of five of the cases, the death was not discussed with patients subjected to ‘involuntary euthanasia’ because they were either in a coma, they were diagnosed with dementia, or because doctors decided it would not be in their best interests to discuss the matter with them.

Very often doctors would not inform the families of plans to lethally inject a relation because they considered it a medical decision to be made by themselves alone, the report published by the Journal of Medical Ethics said.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Great News! Delaware Bill Tabled in Committee

Great News!

A Delaware State Representative just wrote me that their assisted suicide proposal, HB 150,  was tabled today in Committee.  (The bill is stuck in committee).

For more information, please go here:

Margaret Dore

Delaware Talking Points

1.  HB 150 legalizes assisted suicide for persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having less than six months to live.  In Oregon, which uses the same definition, young adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes are "eligible" for assisted suicide.  Such persons can have years, even decades, to live.  Consider also, Jeanette Hall, who was adamant that she would do assisted suicide, but was convinced to be treated instead.  Today, nearly 15 years later, she is "thrilled to be alive."  See

2.  In Oregon, it is well-documented that Medicaid steers people to suicide through coverage incentives.  Private insurers have this same ability.  For more information, see the affidavit of Kenneth Stevens, MD, at this link:

3.  Legalization of assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight.  Even if the patient struggled, who would know?

4.  In Oregon, other (conventional) suicides have increased significantly with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.  In Oregon, conventional suicides are a $41 million problem due to hospitalization costs, etc.  See  Legalization, regardless, sends the wrong message to young people that suicide is an acceptable solution to life's problems.

For a short article about Washington's similar law, please go here: