Saturday, August 1, 2015

California Prohibition Against Assisted Suicide is Constitutional.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

A California trial court has upheld the constitutionality of that state's criminal statute prohibiting assisted suicide, which states:
Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide, is guilty of a felony.
Penal Code § 401

The court's reasoning is contained in a 19 page "Ruling on Demurrer," filed on July 24, 2015. The ruling uses the term, "Aid in Dying" to mean physician-assisted suicide.  The term also means euthanasia. The court states in part:
Since "Aid in Dying" is quicker and less expensive, there is a much greater potential for its abuse, e.g,, greedy heirs-in-waiting, cost containment strategies, √≠mpulse decision-making, etc. Moreover, since it can be employed earlier in the dying process, there is a substantial risk that in many cases, it may bring about a patently premature death. For example, consider that a terminally ill patient, not in pain but facing death within the next six months, may opt for “Aid in Dying”' instead of working through what might have been just a transitory period of depression. Further, "Aid in Dying" creates the possible scenario of someone taking his life based upon an erroneous diagnosis of a terminal illness illness, which was, in fact, a mis-diagnosis that could have been brought to light by the passage of time. After all, doctors are not infallible.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Are Vermonters Being Pressured to Use Act 39?

From True Dignity Vermont

http://www.truedignityvt.org/from-the-netherlands-to-vermont-patients-under-pressure-to-die/

Around one in five patients who choose euthanasia in the Netherlands acts under pressure from family members, according to a leading expert on the ethics of assisted dying, as reported last week in Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/07/pressure-on-patients-is-cause-for-concern-euthanasia-expert/

According to the report, Professor Theo Boer, who teaches ethics at Groningen’s Protestant Theological University and has for nine years served as a member of one of five review committees that assess every euthanasia case, said, “Sometimes it’s the family who go to the doctor. Other times it’s the patient saying they don’t want their family to suffer. And you hear anecdotally of families saying: ‘Mum, there’s always euthanasia.’”

Here in Vermont, where physician-assisted suicide has been legal for just two years, cases of pressure are already starting to emerge, and it isn’t always family members providing the pressure. True Dignity has spoken with the family of a 90-year-old Medicaid patient who felt pressured by caregivers in the facility where she was admitted for recovery from a fall. The patient did not have a terminal diagnosis.

According to Beth Neill, clinicians at the Berlin Health and Rehab Center informed her mother at regular intervals during her 4-month stay there that she had a “right” to use Act 39, and that, “She didn’t even have to discuss it with her family.” It was the act of repeatedly bringing up Act 39 as a health care “option” that caused her mother to feel pressure, and not overt efforts by clinicians to convince her to request the lethal prescription, Neill said. However, she said her mother made it clear she wanted nothing to do with Act 39 and was disturbed that staff re-introduced the topic repeatedly.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Washington DC: "No" on B21-38.

Below please find the executive summary to my submission against the DC assisted suicide/euthanasia bill. To view the entire submission and its attachments, please click here and here.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

B21-38 is promoted as assuring patient choice and control, which is false.  Points addressed by this memo include:

  • There is a complete lack of oversight when the lethal dose is administered (even if the patient struggled, who would know?) 
  • The bill requires falsification of the death certificate to reflect a natural death.  The significance is a lack of transparency and an inability to prosecute even in a case of outright murder.
  • B21-38 will likely legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia for young adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes. 

Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, B21-38 is the wrong bill.

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Thank you to everyone who donated and helped me to get this done. Please consider a generous donation to continue to make this work possible. Thank you again.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation.
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA 98154

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Laws allowing assisted suicide can have far-reaching impact

http://newsok.com/laws-allowing-assisted-suicide-can-have-far-reaching-impact/article/5434390/?page=2

The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: July 20, 2015


Advertisement
AN effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in California has been put on hold. The rationales that caused California lawmakers to rethink the proposal deserve attention elsewhere.

This is especially true of arguments put forth by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatrist who is director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California Irvine. Proponents of assisted suicide portray it as a humane solution for people in the last stages of painful, debilitating, terminal illnesses. But in a letter sent to California lawmakers, Kheriaty demonstrated that such laws can lead to death for a far wider, and often healthier, population.

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 athttps://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf  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? 
http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/06/beware-of-vultures-senator-jennifer.html

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.

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* 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 www.margaretdore.com and www.choiceillusion.org

**  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).https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf

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.

THANK YOU!

Margaret Dore