Showing posts with label assisted suicide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assisted suicide. Show all posts

Friday, April 24, 2020

Motion for Reconsideration in Glassman Case

Margaret Dore
To view Dore's brief as submitted, click here.

I.   RELIEF REQUESTED

Margaret Dore moves for reconsideration of the Court’s order dated April 1, 2020, which upheld the constitutionality of the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.[1]

II. THE ACT MUST BE SET ASIDE

The Court did not reach the Act’s violation of the object in title rule, which is dispositive to set the Act aside. The Court should reach this issue now to overturn the Act.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Dore Bio: Margaret Dore v. David Leven Debate. Rematch in New York State.

Margaret K. Dore, Esq., MBA

Margaret Dore is a fourth generation lawyer in Washington State USA. Her father was a lawyer and a Democratic politician who ultimately served as Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court. Her mother was a politician’s wife and a political activist in her own right, best known for her work to raise awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and also to help affected families and to promote medical research. Growing up, other families went camping. Dore’s family went campaigning.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Margaret Dore Lead Witness Against Rhode Island Bill

Rhode Island Capitol

12 WPRI.COM, EYEWITNESS NEWS
The chief opponent of legalizing the practice of medication-assisted death in Rhode Island was not a Rhode Islander, but a lawyer from Washington state named Margaret Dore who runs an organization called Choice is an Illusion.
Don’t make our mistake, Dore told the committee, referring to Washington’s Death with Dignity Act.
She argued that the six-month prognosis is subjective, and patients sometimes live beyond doctors’ expectations. She also said the bill could have unintended consequences, telling a hypothetical story of a son who encourages his terminal father to request the medication just in case, and then persuades or forces him into taking the drug at home.
Dad dies, and the death certificate will reflect a terminal disease as the cause of death and the son will inherit, she said.

To view the entire post, click here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

South Africa: Dore Evidence Prevails

South Africa
Dear supporters of Margaret Dore and Choice is an Illusion

Today 6 December 2016, the South African Supreme Court of Appeal has overturned the lower courts authorisatin of euthanasia decision. The euthanasia side filed an affidavit from an Oregon pro-assisted suicide doctor activist arguing how well assisted suicide was being implemented in Oregon. Margaret Dore filed an affidavit rebutting these claims.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Maryland: Powerful Testimony by Elder Law Attorney Margaret Dore

Assisted Suicide Proponents Wilt After Tough Questioning by Committee

From Stop Assisted Suicide Maryland

(Annopolis MD) Proponents of physician-assisted suicide struggled to answer the tough questions thrown at them at yesterday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on SB 418. The Committee met late into the night with Senators raising significant concerns with the bill and its lack of protections.

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

Three bullet points against assisted suicide

1.  Legal assisted suicide encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives.  See: 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,   https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/terminal-uncertainty.pdf

2.  Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse, for example, in the inheritance context.  See this short bar article (non-lawyers say they like it):  https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm 

3.  Once assisted suicide is legal, there is pressure to expand to euthanasia for non-terminal people, for example, to you or your family member, who through no fault of their own, falls on hard times:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2014/10/this-is-how-society-will-pay-you-back_9.htm

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dore v. Morris: Assisted suicide debate deals with abuse, compassion


http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20120419/KAMLOOPS0101/120419759/-1/kamloops01/assisted-suicide-debate-deals-with-abuse-compassion

April 19, 2012

Lawyer cautions against legislating through courts

By Mike Youds, Daily News Staff Reporter
 
Margaret Dore (L) and Wanda Morris (R)

A right to medically assisted suicide may sound compassionate and just, but beware the details when it comes to the act itself, a U.S. lawyer warned Wednesday in a debate at TRU.

Margaret Dore shared some of her experiences with assisted suicide in Washington State, where the practice became legal through a ballot measure four years ago.


 "A lot of people think this is a great idea until they start thinking and reading about how you do it," she told an audience of about 30 people in the Irving K. Barber Centre.

In effect, laws in Washington and Oregon empower people who may choose to abuse the responsibility, Dore said.

"Your heir can be there to help you sign up. Once the legal dose leaves the pharmacy, there is no oversight whatsoever."

Wanda Morris, head of the Canadian charity Dying With Dignity, advocated for the right to choose to end life humanely.

"These are individuals who want to live, but they are individuals facing a horrific death," she said. "The fundamental difference is choice. Choice is important in Canada. Why is it, at the time of life when we're facing our toughest decision we could ever make, that choice is taken away?"

The issue has long been debated in Canada, where two years ago Parliament easily defeated a bill that would have permitted assisted suicide and euthanasia. Recently the subject has made headlines again with two court high-profile court cases in B.C. and Quebec.

"Autonomy is such a critical value, it is a cornerstone of modern medicine," Morris continued. "Nothing can be done without consent. And yet here, at the end of life, I'm not given that choice."

Dore said she agrees that people should have the right to choose how they die, but the U.S. laws don't give that. Four days after the Washington State law passed, the adult son of a care facility resident showed up asking how "to get them pills," she said.

"Who's choice?," she asked rhetorically. An adult child can administer the lethal dose with no one else to tell whether it was a matter of consent. "There is no oversight over administration."

Morris insisted that the law her organization has long pushed for would only apply to individuals with six months or less to live. Dore countered that such a restriction does not apply in the U.S. and pointed to a case where an Oregon woman, who was talked out of suicide by her doctor, remains thankful she has survived another 12 years.

There was a $5.4-million lobby for assisted suicide in Washington, a machine that was up against a volunteer group, she said.

"In Canada and the U.S., there is a very significant funder in this debate and it is the Catholic church," Morris said.

Opponents of assisted suicide argue from dogmatic positions and cannot be satisfied, she said.

"Excuse me, but I never said anything about Catholic dogma," Dore replied.

She warned that Canada, having rejected the idea in Parliament, is facing the possibility of legislating it through the courts with the Carter and Leblanc court cases.

"We have a blank slate and we can write in whatever controls we want to protect the weak and the vulnerable," Morris said.

New York Times: Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse


April 10, 2012 

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/04/10/why-do-americans-balk-at-euthanasia-laws/assisted-suicide-laws-are-a-recipe-for-elder-abuse


Margaret DoreMargaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal, is the president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit organization opposed to assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide means that one person provides the means or information for another person to commit suicide. In Oregon and Washington, assisted-suicide laws were passed by ballot measures. No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature despite more than 100 attempts.

The Oregon and Washington acts apply to "terminal" patients, defined as patients predicted to have no more than six months to live. Doctor prognoses, however, can be wrong. Moreover, treatment can lead to recovery. My friend Jeanette Hall was adamant that she would "do" Oregon's act. She had been diagnosed with cancer and was given six months to a year to live. Her doctor convinced her to be treated. That was nearly 12 years ago.

Proponents tout assisted suicide as providing "choice" over the timing of one's death. But choice under the Oregon and Washington acts cannot be assured. For example, neither act requires witnesses at the death. Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?

Assisted suicide is a concept contrary to public safety and a recipe for elder abuse.  Americans are right to be skeptical of these laws.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Massachusetts Assisted-Suicide Initiative Fact Check: The Baloney Meter is Running High


Margaret Dore
March 1, 2012
1.  Legalization will Empower the Government

Proponents claim that legalizing assisted suicide will keep the government out of people's lives.  The opposite is true.

Fact check:  In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, legalization has allowed the Oregon Health Plan, a government entity, to steer people to suicide.  The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.  Each wanted treatment.  The Plan denied coverage and steered them to suicide by offering to cover the cost of their suicides instead.  See  See Susan Donaldson James, "Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon," ABC News, August 6, 2008; and "Letter noting assisted suicide raises questions," KATU TV, July 30, 2008.


2.  The Initiative Allows Someone Else to Administer the Lethal Dose

Proponents claim that only the patient may administer the lethal dose.  This is not true.

Fact check:  The initiative, H.3884, states that patients "may" self-administer the lethal dose. There is no language stating that administration “must” be by self-administration.  "Self-administer" is also a specially defined term that allows someone else to administer the lethal dose to the patient.  See here.

3.  An Heir is Allowed to Witness the Lethal Dose Request

Proponents claim that the lethal dose request form must be "independently witnessed" by two people.  This is not true. 

Fact check:  The initiative, Sections 3 and 21, provides that one of two witnesses on the lethal dose request form cannot be a patient’s heir or other person who will benefit financially from the patient's death; the other witness can be an heir or other person who will benefit financially from the death.


4.  Substantial Compliance

Proponents claim that the initiative has "strict safeguards" to protect patients.  The initiative, however, only requires "substantial compliance" with its provisions.  Section 18(1)(a) states:  "A person who substantially complies in good faith with provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to be in compliance with this chapter."

5.  Assisted Suicide is a Recipe for Elder Abuse

Proponents claim that the initiative is safe, which is not true.

Fact check:  The initiative does not require witnesses at the death.  Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir, or someone else who will benefit financially from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent.  Even if he struggled, who would know?


6.  Patients are not Necessarily Dying

Proponents imply that the initiative only applies to people in their "final days." This is untrue.

Fact check:  See 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?," Seattle Weekly, January 14, 2009; and Jeanette Hall, "She pushed for legal right to die, and - thankfully - was rebuffed," Boston Globe, October 4, 2011.

7.  Assisted Suicide is a Wedge Issue
 
Proponents deny that assisted suicide is a "wedge issue" to legalize direct euthanasia of non-terminal people.

Fact check:  In Washington state, where assisted suicide has been legal since 2009, there has been a proposal to expand Washington's law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal people.  See Brian Faller, "Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act," The Olympian, November 16, 2011.


8.  Legal Assisted Suicide Threatens People with Disabilities

Proponents claim that people with disabilities are not at risk from legalization of assisted suicide, which is untrue.

Fact check:  Disability rights groups such as Not Dead Yet oppose assisted suicide as a threat to their lives.  In Oregon and Washington, official government forms for assisted suicide acts in those states promote disability as a reason to commit suicide.[1]  People with disabilities are thereby devalued.  In 2009, there was a proposed assisted suicide bill in New Hampshire that squarely applied to people with disabilities.[2]  If the initiative were to be passed now, people with disabilities see themselves as potentially next in line under a future expansion of that law.  As noted above, there has already been a proposal in Washington state to expand its law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal people.
 

* * * 


[1]  See e.g. "Oregon Death with Dignity Act Attending Physician Follow-up Form," question 15, providing seven suggested answers as to why there was a lethal dose request.  Some of the answers are written in terms of disability being an acceptable reason to kill yourself.  These answers include:  "[A] concern about . . . the loss of control of bodily functions."
[2]  Stephen Drake and Not Dead Yet, "New Hampshire Poised to Redefine "Terminally Ill" - to PWDs and others for Assisted Suicide Eligibility," January 30, 2009 (regarding New Hampshire's 2009 assisted suicide bill, HB 304, which applied to people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS and other non-dying people).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Better Response Would be to Repeal Washington's Act as a Fraud on the Voters

On November 16, 2011, an article appeared in a Washington State newspaper arguing for expansion of Washington's physician-assisted suicide act to direct euthanasia and to persons without a terminal disease.[1]  The author, Brian Faller, candidly admitted:  "To improve the chances of passage, the Death with Dignity Act was written to apply only to the choices of the terminally ill who are competent at the time of their death."[2]  Now, he shows the other side's true colors.

In any case, this is my response:

Dear Editor:

I am an attorney who has written multiple articles about our physician-assisted suicide act. I am also President of Choice is an Illusion, a non-profit corporation opposed to assisted-suicide. I disagree with Brian Faller that our physician-assisted act should be expanded to include direct euthanasia. A better course would be to repeal that act as a fraud on the voters.

Our assisted-suicide act was enacted as Initiative 1000 in 2008 and went into effect in 2009. During the election, proponents claimed that its passage would assure individuals control over their deaths. The act is instead a recipe for elder abuse. Key provisions include that a patient’s heir, who will benefit financially from his death, is allowed to actively assist him to sign up for the lethal dose. Specifically, an heir is allowed to be one of two witnesses on the lethal dose request form. In the context of a will, the same situation would create a presumption "duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence." (RCW 11.12.160(2)).

There are also no witnesses required at the death. Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for someone else, including an heir, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?

The idea that our act promotes patient control or individual liberty is untrue. Our act instead puts older people and others in the cross-hairs of abuse. For more information, please see www.choiceillusion.org and click on the page for Washington State.

* * *
[1]  Brian Faller, "Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act, The Olympian, November 16, 2011, available at http://www.theolympian.com/2011/11/16/1878667/perhaps-its-time-to-expand-washingtons.html
[2]  Id.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"No, physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana: It's a recipe for elder abuse and more"

By State Senator Jim Shockley and Margaret Dore
Published in The Montana Lawyer
The State Bar of Montana[1]

Introduction

There are two states where physician-assisted suicide is legal: Oregon and Washington.  These states have statutes that  give doctors and others who participate in a qualified patient’s suicide immunity from criminal and civil liability.  (ORS 127.800-995 and RCW 70.245). 

In Montana, by contrast, the law on assisted suicide is governed by the Montana Supreme Court decision, Baxter v. State, 354 Mont. 234 (2009).  Baxter gives doctors who assist a patient’s suicide a potential defense to criminal prosecution.  Baxter does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal and civil liability.  Under Baxter, a doctor cannot be assured that a suicide will qualify for the defense.  Some assisted suicide proponents nonetheless claim that Baxter has legalized assisted suicide in Montana.

Legalizing assisted suicide in Montana would be a recipe for elder abuse.  The practice has multiple other problems.

What is physician-assisted suicide?

The American Medical Association (AMA) states: “Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act.”  (Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 2.211).  For example, a “physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide.”  (Id.)

The Baxter decision

Baxter found that there was no indication in Montana law that physician-assisted suicide, which the Court termed “aid in dying,” is against public policy.  (354 Mont. at 240, ¶¶ 13, 49-50).  Based on this finding, the Court held that a patient’s consent to aid in dying “constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician.”  (Id. at 251, ¶ 50).

Baxter, however, overlooked elder abuse.  The Court stated that the only person “who might conceivably be prosecuted for criminal behavior is the physician who prescribes a lethal dose of medication.”  (354 Mont. at 239, ¶ 11).  The Court thereby overlooked criminal behavior by family members and others who benefit from a patient’s death, for example, due to an inheritance.

Baxter also overlooked caselaw imposing civil liability on persons who cause or fail to prevent a suicide.  See Krieg v. Massey, 239 Mont. 469, 472-3 (1989) and Nelson v. Driscoll, 295 Mont. 363, ¶¶ 32-33 (1999).  Baxter is, regardless, a narrow decision in which doctors cannot be assured that a suicide will qualify for the defense.  Attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman provide this analysis:

If the idea of suicide itself is suggested to the patient first by the doctor or even by the family, instead of being on the patient's sole initiative, the situation exceeds "aid in dying" as conceived by the Court.  If a particular suicide decision process is anything but "private, civil, and compassionate," . . . , the Court's decision wouldn't guarantee a consent defense.  If the patient is less than "conscious," is unable to "vocalize" his decision, or gets help because he is unable to "self-administer," or the drug fails and someone helps complete the killing, Baxter would not apply. . . .
No doctor can prevent these human contingencies from occurring in a given case . . . in order to make sure that he can later use the consent defense if he is charged with murder.
“Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability,” Spring 2010, at  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html


The 2011 Legislative Session

The 2011 legislative session featured two bills in response to Baxter, both of which failed: SB 116, which would have eliminated Baxter’s potential defense; and SB 167, which would have legalized assisted suicide by providing doctors and others with immunity from criminal and civil liability.

During a hearing on SB 167, the bill's sponsor, Senator Anders Blewett, said:  “[U]nder current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”  ( http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf ).  Dr. Stephen Speckart made a similar statement: "[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."  (Id. at p.2)

Legalization would create new paths of abuse

In Montana, there has been a rapid growth of elder abuse.  Elders' vulnerabilities and larger net worth make them a target for financial abuse.  The perpetrators are often family members motivated by an inheritance.  See e.g.  www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/mmi-study-broken-trust-elders-family-finances.pdf .

Preventing elder abuse is official Montana state policy.  See e.g., 52-3-801, MCA.  If Montana would legalize physician-assisted suicide, a new path of abuse would be created against the elderly, which would be contrary to that policy.  Alex Schadenberg, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, International, states:
With assisted suicide laws in Washington and Oregon, 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 the administration. . . . [E]ven if a patient struggled, “who would know?
http://www.isb.idaho.gov/pdf/advocate/issues/adv10oct.pdf, p. 14.

“Terminally Ill” Does Not Mean Dying

Baxter’s potential defense applies when patients are "terminally ill," which Baxter does not define.  In Oregon, “terminal” patients are defined as those having less than six months to live.  Such persons are not necessarily dying.  Doctors can be wrong.  Moreover, treatment can lead to recovery.  Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, who was diagnosed with cancer and told that she had six months to a year to live, said:


I wanted to do our [assisted suicide] law and I wanted my doctor to help me.  Instead, he encouraged me to not give up . . .  I had both chemotherapy and radiation. . . .
It is now 10 years later.  If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead. 
http://mtstandard.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_aeef3982-9a98-11df-8db2-001cc4c002e0.html 
Legal physician-assisted suicide empowered the Oregon Health Plan, not individual patients 

Once a patient is labeled “terminal,” an easy argument can be made that his or her treatment should be denied.  This has happened in Oregon where patients labeled “terminal” have not only been denied coverage for treatment, they have been offered assisted-suicide instead.

The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.  (KATU TV, at http://www.katu.com/news/26119539.html , ABC News, at http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/Story?id=5517492  Ken Stevens, MD, at pp. 16-17, at http://choiceillusionoregon.blogspot.com/p/oregons-mistake-costs-lives.html).  The Oregon Health Plan refused to pay for their desired treatments and offered to pay for their suicides instead.  Neither Wagner nor Stroup saw this as a celebration of their “choice.”  Wagner said: “I’m not ready to die.”  Stroup said: “This is my life they’re playing with.”
            
Stroup and Wagner were steered to suicide and it was the Oregon Health Plan doing the steering.  Oregon’s law empowered the Oregon Health Plan, not individual patients.

Oregon’s studies are invalid

Oregon’s statute does not require a doctor to be present when the lethal dose is administered.  (ORS 127.800-995).  During a hearing on SB 167, Senator Jeff Essmann made a related point, as follows:
[A]ll the protections [in Oregon’s law] end after the prescription is written.  [The proponents] admitted that the provisions in the Oregon law would permit one person to be alone in that room with the patient.  And in that situation, there is no guarantee that that medication is self-administered.
So frankly, any of the studies that come out of the state of Oregon’s experience are invalid because no one who administers that drug . . . to that patient is going to be turning themselves in for the commission of a homicide.
Senate Judiciary Hearing Transcript, February 10, 2011, p.15, at http://www.margaretdore.com/pdf/senator_essmann_sb_167_001.pdf

Public confusion

In Montana, the moving force behind legalizing assisted suicide is Denver-based Compassion & Choices.  On September 15, 2011, that organization’s president published an article on Huffington Post claiming that under Baxter physicians in Montana are “safe from prosecution.”  ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-coombs-lee/aid-in-dying-montana_b_960555.html )  This is clearly not the case and  propaganda.  A physician relying on her advice could be charged with homicide.

Conclusion  

Baxter is a flawed decision that overlooked elder abuse.  Baxter has created confusion in the law, which has put Montana citizens at risk.  Neither the legal profession nor the medical profession has the necessary guidance to know what is lawful. 


Legalizing assisted suicide is bad public policy.  Doctors’ diagnoses can be wrong and legalization is a recipe for abuse.  Legalization would also allow the state government to encourage citizens to kill themselves.  This is an area where the government does not belong.  Montana consistently has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.   Montana doesn’t need the “Oregon Experience.”


Legislation should be enacted to overrule Baxter and clearly declare that assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.  
      
* * *

Senator Jim Shockley, of Victor, is a Republican State Senator, probate lawyer, and an adjunct instructor at the University of Montana School of Law. 

Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  She is also President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted-suicide.  (www.choiceillusion.org)  She is a Democrat.  

* * *

[1] To read this article as published in The Montana Lawyer and the opposing article by Senator Anders Blewett, go here:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Don't be fooled by assisted-suicide bill

http://www.lowellsun.com/editorials/ci_19137188
The Lowell Sun
Updated: 10/18/2011 09:27:53 AM EDT

This letter responds to Marie Donovan's article about the proposed Massachusetts death-with-dignity act, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide in your state (" 'Death with Dignity Act' renews end-of-life debate"). I am an attorney in Washington state, one of just two states where physician-assisted suicide is legal. The other state is Oregon. I am also president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide as an issue of public safety (
www.choiceillusion.org).

In both Washington and Oregon, assisted-suicide laws were passed via highly financed sound-bite, ballot-initiative campaigns. No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature -- despite more than 100 attempts. This year, a bill was defeated in the New Hampshire House, 234 to 99.

The proposed Massachusetts act is a recipe for elder abuse. Key provisions include that an heir, who will benefit financially from a patient's death, is allowed to actively help sign the patient up for the lethal dose. See e.g., Section 21 allowing one of two witnesses on the lethal-dose request form to be an heir (
http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/Government/2011-Petitions  ).

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight over administration. The proposed act does not require that a doctor or anyone else be present at the time of death. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or another person who will benefit from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?

Donovan's article prominently features a discussion of religion. In Washington state, proponents used similar discussions and even religious slurs to distract voters from the pitfalls of legalization. What the proposed law said and did was all but forgotten.

Do not be deceived.
/11-12.pdf
MARGARET DORE
Choice is an Illusion
Seattle, Wash.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hawaii: An Odd Claim of Legality

Barbara Coombs Lee has a new article on Huffington Post, claiming that physician-assisted suicide ("aid in dying") is legal in Hawaii.  This is an odd claim given that bills to legalize assisted suicide in Hawaii have repeatedly failed, most recently this year.[1]

Coombs Lee's article begins with a discussion of melting snow, moves on to a panel of experts, focuses on Montana and then finally discusses the law of Hawaii.[2]  With regard to Hawaii, her arguments are similar to those presented in a brief drafted by Kathryn Tucker.[3]  My prior critique of that brief states in part:

"In Hawaii, bills to enact physician-assisted suicide have repeatedly failed and/or been defeated in the Legislature since at least 2002.[7] This fact alone is sufficient to defeat Tucker's claim that [a 1909] statute has somehow already legalized assisted suicide.  Consider for example, Lawrence v. Lawrence, 105 Wn.App. 683, 687-8, 20 P.3d 972 (2001).  The Washington State Court of Appeals held that the "friendly parent concept" was not the law because bills to enact it had been rejected by the legislature.  In Hawaii, bills to enact physician-assisted suicide have repeatedly failed and/or been rejected in the legislature.  For this reason alone, physician-assisted suicide is not the law of Hawaii."

http://www.choiceillusion.org/2011/09/hawaii-assisted-suicide-is-not-already.html

* * *

1.  On February 7, 2011, SB 803 was defeated in Committee 4 to 0.  See Hawaii Legislative website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/lists/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=803
2.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-coombs-lee/hawaii-aid-in-dying_b_995217.html.
3.  Kathryn Tucker, "End-of-life Law and Policy in Hawaii Aid in Dying," as of September 20, 2011, available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/tucker-brief_0011.pdf

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Not Legal in Montana; A Recipe for Elder Abuse and More

For a print version of this article, go here.

By Margaret Dore

A. Introduction

 Proponents claim that physician-assisted suicide is legal in Montana. This is untrue. A bill that would have accomplished that goal was defeated in the 2011 legislature.

Legal physician-assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. It empowers heirs and others at the expense of older people. It empowers health care providers at the expense of patients.  In Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal, legalization is statistically correlated to an increase in other suicides.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Washington State’s Assisted Suicide Report: No Information About Consent

By Margaret K. Dore, Esq.[1]

On March 10, 2011, Washington State issued a formal report about its physician-assisted suicide act.[2] The report does not address whether the people who died under the act did so on a voluntary basis. The information provided is inherently unreliable.

A. Washington’s Act

Washington’s assisted suicide act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.[3]

During the election, proponents claimed that the act’s passage would assure individuals control over their deaths. The act, however, has significant gaps so that such control is not assured. For example, the act allows a person’s heir, who will benefit financially from the death, to assist in signing the person up for the lethal dose.[4]

Dr. Stevens in Missoulian Online

Assisted suicide has led to higher suicide rate in Oregon

January 7, 2011
http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_2c5b2242-18f6-11e0-8109-001cc4c03286.html
I am a doctor in Oregon, where we have legal physician-assisted suicide. I write in support of Sen. Greg Hinkle’s quoted comments about suicide prevention and elder abuse. See editorial, “365 Days of Debate,” Jan. 2. I also provide some statistics from Oregon.


First, Oregon’s high suicide rate. In September 2010, the Oregon Health Authority released statistics that our suicide rate, which excludes suicide under our assisted suicide act, is 35 percent higher than the national average. www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0909a.pdf. This rate has been “increasing significantly since 2000.” Just three years prior, in 1997, we legalized assisted suicide. There is at least a statistical correlation between these two events.


Second, the number of persons dying under our assisted suicide law has been steadily increasing. See www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/docs/year12.pdf.


Third, and yet another distinction for Oregon, we now rank dead last in paid ombudsmen who advocate for the elderly. Just this Friday, the Oregonian newspaper reported that we rank 52nd “in the number of paid ombudsman who investigate and resolve complaints for people in long term care.”
http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2010/12/oregon_ranks_last_in_number_of.html
These statistics are but part of the picture that Oregon is not the best place to be vulnerable, sick or old.


Don’t follow Oregon’s lead. Keep assisted suicide out of Montana.


Kenneth Stevens,
Sherwood, Ore.