Monday, December 1, 2014

Compassion & Choices has a New Campaign to Reduce Patient Choice: Be Careful What you Sign.

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

Last week, the deceptively named euthanasia promotion group, Compassion & Choices (C & C), announced a new campaign to reduce patient choice in healthcare.*

C & C wants to increase the enforceability of health care directives, but only for those that refuse treatment. C & C wants a health care provider who doesn't follow the directive, to not get paid. The problem is that you could get stuck with what you thought that you wanted and not be allowed to change your mind. Consider this example:

You signed a health care directive stating that you do not want "artificially-provided" food and drink, for example, via an IV, nasal tube or stomach tube.

You're in an accident, which renders you unable to personally direct your health care and unable to eat and drink. The healthcare facility and the family member in charge of your care want to give you food and water through "artificial" means. The facility thinks that you will need it for a short time and then recover.

But, if the healthcare facility does this under C & C's proposal, it will not get paid.

A few years ago, the owner of an elder care facility told me about one of its residents. He was an older gentleman who was a slow eater, but he had never choked or aspirated on his food. His doctor arranged for a swallow test, which he failed. To prevent aspiration, the doctor said "Nothing by mouth." The man had previously signed a health care directive saying that he would not want artificially provided food or water. So this meant nothing at all. Moreover, the man's son sided with the doctor.

Over the next few days, the man said that he was hungry and that he wanted something to eat, until he got too weak to say anything at all.

He was not allowed to change his mind and it was a horrible awful death.

So much for compassion and choice.

Be careful what you sign.

Advance directives are dangerous when used to refuse treatment or care. It's better to leave that up to your trusted agent to make decisions in the moment.  Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State and President of Choice is an Illusion

* C & C's new campaign "to put a stop to unwanted medical treatment."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Compassion & Choices LOVES to talk about religion.

This last Tuesday, Compassion & Choices (C & C) hosted a conference call briefing. The call stressed C & C's usual talking points, including religion.  C & C loves to talk about religion.

So, why is that?

Maybe C & C doesn't want anyone reading its legislation or thinking about its agenda too closely, you think?  So, C & C talks about religion to create a distraction.  It's kind of like starting a fire in the back yard so that no one notices what you're doing on the front lawn.

New Jersey's Bill and C & C's Agenda.

For concrete examples, consider New Jersey's pending assisted suicide/euthanasia bill for "terminally ill" people, which isn't quite what it seems to be.[1]  Consider also, C & C's agenda, which, as described below, is to defend the medical government establishment against individual patients and to otherwise reduce choice in health care.

1.  "Terminally ill" does not mean "dying."

Many people think that "terminally ill" means "dying." But the New Jersey's bill's definition of "terminally ill" is broad enough to include non-dying people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.[2]

2.  Young healthy people will be labeled "terminal;" there will be an excuse to deny care.

Under the New Jersey bill, a healthy 18 year old with insulin dependent diabetes is "eligible" for assisted suicide/euthanasia. [3] So is a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS.  Such persons can have decades to live, yet they will be labeled "terminal" if the bill passes.[4]  Once so labeled, the "justification can be made that their treatment or coverage should be denied in favor of someone more deserving."[5]  Do you want this to happen to you or someone you know?

3.  People will be encouraged to throw away their lives.

The New Jersey bill encourages people to commit suicide or be killed based on a doctor's opinion of terminality.[6] Doctors, however, can be wrong, sometimes way wrong.[7] Consider John Norton who was diagnosed with ALS.  He was told that he would get progressively worse (be paralyzed) and die in three to five years.  Instead, the disease progression stopped, on its own.  In a 2012 affidavit, at age 74, he states:
If assisted suicide or euthanasia had been available to me in the 1950's, I would have missed the bulk of my life and my life yet to come.[8]
Legal assisted suicide/euthanasia encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives.

4. New paths of elder abuse will be created.

If you read the New Jersey bill, it creates new paths of elder abuse. The most obvious path is due to a complete lack of oversight when the lethal dose is administered.[9]  Not even a witness is required.[10]  If the patient struggled, who would know?

5.  C & C's agenda.

And what about C & C's agenda?  C & C touts itself as the great promoter of individual choice. But, its actual mission is to back the medical-government establishment and to reduce choice in healthcare.

Consider an opinion piece published by C & C's president, Barbara Coombs Lee.[11] She defended Oregon's Medicaid Program against an individual patient named Barbara Wagner. This was after the program had denied coverage for a cancer drug recommended by Wagner's doctor.[12]  Coombs Lee also took issue with Wagner’s choice to try and live and argued that Wagner should have given up hope and accepted her pending death.[14]   But this was not Wagner's choice. In a KATU TV interview, Wagner said: 
I’m not ready to die ... I’ve got things I’d still like to do.[15]
In the opinion piece, Coombs Lee also argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures. This would presumably be through coverage incentives. For example, she said: 
The burning public policy question is whether we inadvertently encourage patients to act against their own self-interest, chase an unattainable dream of cure, and foreclose the path of acceptance that curative care has been exhausted.”  [opinion piece, page 2]
Coombs Lee is a former “managed care executive.”[16]

C & C doesn't want you reading its bill or thinking about what it's really doing.

Don’t be fooled .

* * *
Margaret Dore is a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  She is also president of Choice is an Illusion, a 501(c)(4) human rights organization opposing assisted suicide and euthanasia.  For more information, see www.margaretdore.com  and www.choiceillusion.org

[1]  See this legal/policy analysis of New Jersey's pending bill, A2270, which attaches the proposed bill and can be viewed here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-no-assisted-suicide-11-12-14.pdf
[2]  Id., pp. 4-7.
[3]  Id.
[4]  Id.
[5]  Joint Opinion Letter by attorney Theresa Schrempp and Richard Wonderly, M.D., October 22, 2009 (regarding a proposed definition of "terminally ill adult patient")  To view the letter, see 
[6]  See legal/policy analysis, pp. 4-7, at https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-no-assisted-suicide-11-12-14.pdf
[7]  Id. See also Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty," Washington's new "Death with Dignity" law allows doctors to help people commit suicide - once they've determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they're wrong? The Seattle Weekly, January 14, 2009, at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/terminal-uncertainty.pdf 
[8] John Norton's story and affidavit can be viewed at these links: http://www.massagainstassistedsuicide.org/2012/09/john-norton-cautionary-tale.html and https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/signed-john-norton-affidavit_001.pdf
[9] Legal/policy analysis, p. 10, at https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-no-assisted-suicide-11-12-14.pdf
[10]  Id.
[11]  Barbara Coombs Lee, "Sensationalizing a sad case cheats public of sound debate, The Oregonian, November 29, 2008, at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/barbaracoombsleeagainstwagner1.pdf For more background, see "Bradley Williams uses Coombs Lee's own words to impeach her," at http://www.choiceillusion.org/2014/09/bradley-williams-uses-coombs-lees-own.html and https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/true-colors3.pdf
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] Susan Harding and KATU Web Staff, "Letter noting assisted suicide raises questions, July 30, 2008, last updated October 30, 2013, at www.katu.com/news/specialreports/26119539.html
[16] http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/coombsleebio.pdf

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dore Letter to New Jersey Assembly

Dear Legislators:

I am attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  I am writing to urge you to not make our mistake.  Please vote "No" on A2270.

I have prepared an in-depth legal/policy analysis describing some of the problems with A2270, which can be viewed at the links set forth below. (or click here).

I make three points: 

1.  The bill, A2270, is titled "Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act."  "Aid in Dying" is a euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia.  The title is, regardless, deceptive because it implies that A2270 is limited to people who are dying, which is untrue. For example, A2270, if enacted, will apply to people with chronic conditions who otherwise have years, even decades, to live.  See memo, pp. 4-7.  Once enacted, there will be pressure to expand to a broader group of people.  See memo, pp. 7-8. 

2. The bill is a recipe for abuse with the most obvious reason being a complete lack of oversight when the lethal dose is administered.  See memo, pp. 9-16. 

3. The bill lacks transparency and accountability.  See memo., pp. 17-19. 

The last part of the memo is a discussion of the "Oregon and Washington Experience," with supporting documentation attached.  

Here is a link to the memo and attachments in one document: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-no-assisted-suicide-11-12-14.pdf

Or, if you like, a link to the memo alone:  https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-memo-only-11-12-14.pdf and a link to the attachments:  
https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/nj-no-on-a2270-attachments-pnly-11-12-14.pdf

Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thank you.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
Choice is an Illusion, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation
www.choiceillusion.org
www.margaretdore.com
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA 98154 
206 389 1754 main reception
206 389 1562 direct line

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Euthanasia without patient consent and over the family's objection

This last August, the Washington Post did a feature article on how non-dying people are being killed in hospices. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/21/as-more-hospices-enroll-patients-who-arent-dying-questions-about-lethal-doses-arise/?   

I have had many people contact me with similar stories.  Below, please find the latest one by a Romanian immigrant.  I hope that more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals can speak out about these cases, before it's too late.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President
Choice is an Illusion, a 501(c)4 nonprofit corporation


Case in Point: 


My name is Daniela. I am 46 years old and live in Oregon. I believe my grandmother was killed in a hospital on June 24, 2014. She was in the emergency room for three hours and was given morphine after we had refused it and clearly asked for her right to die naturally. The nurse told me that it was time to say goodbye and she died almost immediately upon receiving that shot. I have the medical records, but there is no notation of the morphine she was given, which makes me believe the records were falsified. 

Elisabeta KoczurThe photograph to the left is of Elisabeth Koczur.

The last wish my grandma had was for a drink of water. I don't think I will ever forget how she looked at me expecting help. Four nurses in the room imprisoned me and I could not move. I was forced to keep looking in her eyes as she pleaded for water. Why was I not allowed to grant her last wish?

Our family is in shock and is having emotional problems because of what we witnessed. My grandma went to the hospital with abdominal pain and shortness of breath. There, according to the medical records, she was diagnosed to have congestive heart failure, but, when she went into cardiac arrest, they did not attempt to resuscitate her. If she had received proper treatment, she might be here with us today. Grana, as I called her, was 99 years old. I think they decided that she had lived too long, but they did not know this beautiful soul.

Grana was from Romania and had suffered many horrible things in her life. She was a war orphan and spent her life helping other Romanian orphans, myself included. Like so many immigrants, we left our homes and land searching for freedom which turned out to be an illusion. We arrived in the West where we worked hard and were looked down upon. Our hearts cried so many times because of how we were treated in this foreign land, but it was too late to return home. My sons were born and we had to look ahead.
Elisabeth Koczur as she aged.Photograph is of Elisabeth Koczur in middle age.

Grana didn't speak English. She was old and partially deaf, but everyday she would learn a new word and was proud of her achievements. She taught my sons to speak, read and write our Romanian language. They read the Bible to her because her eyes were damaged in the German factory where she worked during World War II. The Germans were testing gas masks on the employees. Every day she had to stay in a room with a mask on until tears would come from her eyes. When the Germans would see that through the glass panel behind which they stood, they would let her out. That is how she lost her vision. Grana endured more than I could ever write about. She was raped by Russians recruited to work for the Germans. She was orphaned during World War I and never knew her father who died before she was born. Being poor she had to work hard to earn a living. I don't know anyone who was persecuted and endured as many hardships as my grandma, and all with great hope in her heart.   

I was an unwanted pregnancy. Grana gave me the chance to see the light. We lived together for 46 years. When I was an infant, God partnered me with my grandma, placing me in her loving and caring hands. When she was elderly and infirm I prayed everyday that I would be able to give her the same tender loving care. God granted my prayer until that night when the hospital separated us. Now I cannot sleep because I have nightmares. In our culture the last wish is greatly respected and now I hear my grandma cry for water every night. I was left alone in the exam room for hours with her dead body in my arms kissing her and praying for her. A hospital chaplain stopped by for a few minutes and told me that I am selfish not to let God enjoy my grandma. I felt that something broke in my head when I heard that. 
   
Elisabeta Koczur, age 99, three weeks before she was morphined to death at Kaiser ClackamasPhotograph to the left is of Elisabeth Koczur three weeks before her death at the age of 99 years.

I'm alone and afraid. I saw how the crooked* sentenced Grana to die and I know my life is in their hands as well. When I no longer produce, I will be removed. Pray, you who read, that the souls of the departed in the hospitals of this country find peace! And pray for our souls, the souls of those who still live. We should not rest until justice is done. Otherwise we will die, one by one, defeated by the darkness.

I enjoyed listening to my grana's stories about heaven and hell and how the dead people would rise from their graves to be judged when the Angel Gabriel blew his silver trumpet on the Last Day. Oh, and how I wait that day.

*Editor's note: Daniela uses "crooked" to mean healthcare providers who deviate from what is just and good.

Grave Marker for Elisabeth Koczur

Location of Elisabeth Koczur - Her grave is the one with the hanging basket.Elisabeta Koczur's burial location - To view this location full size click on the picture.



Documentation which demonstrates falsified medical records, misdiagnosis and intentional death by morphine which the family and patient begged the Kaiser staff to stop doing.

Koczur Medical Records obtained from Kaiser Permanente, including ambulance records -  This is a large pdf file.

Elisabeth Koczur Certificate of DeathElisabeta Koczur Certificate of Death - http://horror.kaiserpapers.org/images/koczur-certificate-of-death.JPG