Tuesday, November 17, 2015

People With Disabilities Are a High Risk Group for Suicide; Legal Assisted Suicide Discussed as a Contributing Factor.

By Margaret Dore

Thank you Stephen Mendelsohn, of Second Thoughts Connecticut, for providing this important
Stephen Mendelsohn

The State of Connecticut Suicide Prevention Plan for 2020 includes people with disabilities and chronic health conditions as a high-risk group (similar to military veterans or the LGBT community) and discusses assisted suicide as a possible contributing factor to the problem. The Plan states:
Until recently, the [Connecticut State Advisory Board] CTSAB was considering assisted suicide of the terminally ill as a separate issue from suicide prevention. The active disability community in Connecticut, however, has been vocal on the need for suicide prevention services for people with disabilities. 
The Plan goes on:
There may be unintended consequences of assisted suicide legislation on people with disabilities. Peace (2012) writes that "Many assume that disability is a fate worse than death. So we admire people with a disability who want to die, and we shake our collective heads in confusion when they want to live.” People with disabilities have a right to responsive suicide prevention services. The CTSAB intends to continue to explore the needs of the disability community for such services. (Emphasis added).
Plan, p. 44.

The Plan concludes with "Targeted Recommendations,"which push back against the idea of rational suicide for people with disabilities:
• Do not "assume" suicide is a "rational" response to disability.
• Treat mental health conditions as aggressively as with a person without disability. (Emphasis added)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Assisted Suicide Bill Dead!

Assisted suicide bill won't be voted on by Connecticut legislative committee this session

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 25, 2014 - 7:32 pm EDT


HARTFORD, Connecticut. A bill that would allow Connecticut physicians to prescribe medication to help terminally ill patients end their lives won't be voted on during this year's legislative session, the co-chairman of the General Assembly's Public Health Committee said Tuesday.

Windham Rep. Susan Johnson said Tuesday there is not enough time to address various outstanding issues with the bill. This year's short legislative session ends May 7.

"We worked very hard on that bill and there's a lot of work left to do," Johnson said.

This marks the second year in a row that the Public Health Committee has held a public hearing on such legislation and committee members did not take a vote.

Johnson said the Judiciary Committee is better suited to tackle certain outstanding issues with the bill, such as determining a patient's competency, whether they're under any duress, and how they can be protected from people with criminal intentions.

"Those kinds of things need to be ironed out," she said.

Proponents vowed to return with another bill next year, when there will be a longer legislative session.

"I'm very sorry that we're not able to move the bill further this year," said Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford. "We heard from people who wanted it badly."

Ritter said she was pleased, however, by the attention paid to the issue this year, adding how "the discussion just exploded across the state." Tim Appleton, the state director of the advocacy group Compassion and Choices, said he expects support will grow more between now and next year's legislative session.

Opponents have questioned the level of support for the bill, claiming outside groups are pushing the issue in Connecticut. They've vowed to fight future bills.

"The collateral damage from legalizing assisted suicide, including massive elder abuse, the deadly mix with a cost-cutting health care system steering people to suicide, misdiagnosis and incorrect prognosis, suicide contagion, and disability discrimination in suicide prevention, is simply not fixable," said Stephen Mendelsohn, of Second Thoughts Connecticut.

[For a legal and policy analysis against the bill, please click here]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Assisted Suicide is a Prescription for Abuse


I am a former three-term state representative in New Hampshire. Just last week, our House of Representatives voted down an assisted-suicide law similar to Connecticut's Raised Bill No. 5326. The vote was an overwhelming 3 to 1 defeat, 219 to 66.

In New Hampshire, the House is controlled by the Democrats. The vote against assisted suicide was strongly bipartisan and included libertarians. Many representatives, who initially thought that they were for the law, became uncomfortable when they studied it further.

Contrary to promoting "choice" for older people, assisted suicide laws are a prescription for abuse. They empower heirs and others to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. This is especially an issue when the older person has money. There is no assisted suicide bill that you can write to correct this huge problem.

Do not be deceived.

Nancy Elliott Merrimack, NH
Publication: The Day

Published 03/18/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 03/17/2014 04:33 PM

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dore Letter and Memo to Committee

Dear Committee Members:

I am a Democrat and a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  Our law is modeled on a similar law in Oregon.  Both laws are similar to H.B. No. 5326.

Below are highlights to a memo I wrote, providing a legal analysis of  H.B. No. 5326.  To view the memo, please click here.

1.  H.B. No. 5326 is a recipe for elder abuse

  • "Financial considerations [are] an all too common motivation for killing someone." (memo, page 7)
  • Your heir, who will financially benefit from your death, is allowed to act as a witness on the lethal dose request form.  See  H.B. No. 5326, Section 3 (allowing one of two witnesses to be an heir)
  • There is a complete lack of oversight once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy.  Not even a witness is required.  Even if you struggled, who would know?

2.  H.B. No. 5326 encourages people to throw away their lives.

  •  H.B. No. 5326 applies to patients with a "terminal illness," which is defined in terms of a doctor's prediction of less than six months to live. (memo, pages 4-5).
  •  In Oregon, a similar definition is being interpreted to include people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.  (Id.)
  • The six months to live is determined without treatment.  Consider, for example, my friend, Jeanette Hall, who had cancer and who was adamant that she would "do" Oregon's law.  Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead.  She is thrilled to be alive today, nearly 14 years later.  (memo, pages 5-6)

3.  H.B. No. 5326 will allow health care providers and insurers to steer people to suicide

4.  I have had two clients whose fathers signed up for the lethal dose. 

  • In the first case, one side of the family wanted the father to take the lethal dose, while the other did not.  He  spent the last months of his life caught in the middle and traumatized over    whether or not he should kill himself.  My client, his adult daughter, was also traumatized.  The father did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death.  (Memo, page 22)
  • In the other case, it's not clear that administration of the lethal dose was voluntary.  A man who was present told my client that the father refused to take the lethal dose when it was  delivered (?You?re not killing me.  I?m going to bed?), but then took it the next night when he was high on alcohol.  The man who told this to my client later recanted.  My client did not want to pursue the matter further. (Memo, pages 22-3)
  • Do you want this to happen to you or your family?

5.  Two weeks ago, a similar bill was defeated by a 3 to 1 margin

  •  On March 6, 2014, the New Hampshire House, which is controlled by the Democrats, defeated a bill similar to H.B. No. 5326.  
  • The vote was 219 to 66. 
  •  Please click here

I urge you to not make Washington's mistake.

Please vote No on H.B. 5326.

Thank you.

Margaret Dore
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754 main reception line
206 389 1562 direct line