Thursday, June 1, 2017

An Open Letter to Mitchell Hamline School of Law: "Losing Your Freedom Is Like Losing Your Hair"

Mitchell Hamline Panel, 04 27 17
In April, I was honored to be one of four speakers at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. The event was a panel discussion regarding legislation seeking to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Minnesota.  

I arrived at the event with a legal analysis and other materials addressing problems with the legislation. For example and contrary to backers’ claims, patient voluntariness is not assured. 

I started to hand out my materials. Proponents of the legislation, however, objected and a law student organizer backed them up to prevent distribution. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Margaret Dore: "Assisting Persons Can Have Their Own Agendas"

Margaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington state, said the [Nevada] bill would have dire consequences. Besides encouraging people who may have years or decades yet to live to give up on life, it does not consider relatives or others who may pressure someone into voluntary suicide for nefarious reasons.

“Assisting persons can have their own agendas: an adult child wanting an inheritance; a financial predator seeking financial gain; or a doctor wanting to hide malpractice,” she said in a statement.

“The bill, if passed, will create he perfect crime,” she said.

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  and

[1]  See this legal/policy analysis of New Jersey's pending bill, A2270, which attaches the proposed bill and can be viewed here:
[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
[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 
[8] John Norton's story and affidavit can be viewed at these links: and
[9] Legal/policy analysis, p. 10, at
[10]  Id.
[11]  Barbara Coombs Lee, "Sensationalizing a sad case cheats public of sound debate, The Oregonian, November 29, 2008, at For more background, see "Bradley Williams uses Coombs Lee's own words to impeach her," at and
[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