Monday, October 30, 2017

Margaret Dore Featured by Hope Australia

Margaret Dore, an experienced attorney specialising in elder law in Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal, has urged Victorian MPs “to reject the proposed bill seeking to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

Her analysis of the purported "Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017," which would legalise euthanasia as well as assisted suicide, can be read in full here.

Dore points out that in “Oregon and Washington State, most people who die under their [assisted suicide] laws are elders, aged 65 or older. This demographic is already an especially at risk group for abuse and financial exploitation. This is true in both the US and Australia.

Elder abuse and exploitation perpetrators are often family members. They typically start out with small crimes, such as stealing jewelry and blank checks, before moving on to larger items or to coercing victims to sign over deeds to their homes, to change their wills or to liquidate their assets. Amy Mix, an elder law attorney in the US, explains why older people are especially vulnerable:

The elderly are at an at-risk group for a lot of reasons, including, but not limited to diminished capacity, isolation from family and other caregivers, lack of sophistication when it comes to purchasing property, financing, or using computers. Defendants are family members, lots are friends, often people who befriend a senior through church.

In some cases, elder abuse and financial exploitation are fatal. Consider People v. Stuart in which an adult child killed her mother with a pillow, allowing the child to inherit. The Court observed:  Financial considerations [are] an all too common motivation for killing someone.”

The Minister for Health claims that the Bill is safe because two doctors have to certify that they are satisfied that the person requesting assisted suicide or euthanasia is acting voluntarily and without coercion. Dore rightly observes that this is not a real safeguard because: In both Australia and the US, victims do not report abuse. For example, in Victoria, it is estimated that there are more than 20,000 unreported cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation each year and approximately 100,000 in Australia nationwide. Meanwhile, in the US, it’s estimated that only 1 in 14 cases ever comes to the attention of the authorities. Reasons for the lack of reporting include:

Many who suffer from abuse . . . don’t want to report their own child as an abuser.

Dore notes that as with the assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington State:

The bill allows a patient to administer the lethal dose in private, without a witness or doctor present. In addition, the drugs typically used are water and alcohol soluble, such that they can be injected into a sleeping or restrained person without consent. Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, puts it this way:

With assisted suicide laws in Washington and Oregon [and with the proposed bill], perpetrators can . . . take a “legal” route, by getting an elder to sign a lethal dose request. Once the prescription is filled, there is no supervision over administration. Even if a patient struggled, who would know?

I encourage you to read Margaret Dore’s full analysis and consider it carefully. She approaches the Bill with the eye of a lawyer who is experienced in helping elderly people who are being abused by family or financial predators. She demonstrates that the alleged safeguards in the Bill are illusory and the choice the Bill purports to give people is an illusion.

Elderly Victorians deserve a better deal than this assisted suicide and euthanasia Bill offers.

Kind regards,
Paul Russell
Paul Russell
Founder & Director
HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide