Sunday, March 31, 2013

Support for HB 505

The following is a sampling of individuals and groups who support HB 505.

1.  112 Montana doctors have joined together to support HB 505.  See this link for their press release:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/112-montana-physicians-who-support-hb.html
 
2.  Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has submitted 4000 plus signatures against assisted suicide into the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  
3.  The national disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, with members in Montana, has endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/not-dead-yet-supports-hb-505.html
 
4.  Carol Mungas, the widow of a prominent physician who was euthanized by nurses against his will in Great Falls, has endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/i-support-house-bill-505-which-clearly.html 
 
5.  Montanans, Mike Moe and Gail Bell, with similar experiences, have endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_62957251-de74-59bf-9b91-b262b62c3f66.html?print=true&cid=print and http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/because-of-my-mothers-experiences-i-no_8.html
 
6.  The Daily Inter Lake endorsed HB 505.  See http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/03/daily-interlake-urges-passage-of-hb-505.html

Friday, March 29, 2013

Physician-Assisted Suicide Part of Elder Abuse Fraud


On March 26, 2013, Philip Tummarello, a retired police Sergeant Inspector, testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee on on behalf of HB 505.  His testimony included the Thomas Middleton case in which physician-assisted suicide had facilitated the defrauding of an elderly man.  An article from KTVZ.com states: 
"State and court documents show Middleton, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, moved into Sawyer's home in July 2008, months after naming her trustee of his estate, The Bulletin reported Saturday.  Middleton deeded his home to the trust and directed her to make it a rental until the real estate market improved.
Instead, Sawyer signed documents that month to list the property for sale, two days after Middleton died by physician-assisted suicide.  The property sold in October of that year for more than $200,000, the documents show, and it was deposited into an account for one of Sawyer's businesses, Starboard LLC, and $90,000 of that was transferred to two other Sawyer companies, Genesis Futures and Tami Sawyer PC."  (Emphasis added).
 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Older people are no longer valued as they were before"

Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Elizabeth Poiana:

I am a  high school student in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. I want to become a doctor.

My mother is a caregiver.  Sometimes I help her with her clients.

I am here to tell you about how older people are at risk in Washington, from doctors and hospitals. I will also talk about.how attitudes about older people have changed for the worse.  This is especially true since our assisted suicide law was passed in 2008.

I grew up in an adult family home. An adult family home is a small elder care facility located in a residential home.  The caregivers live in the home with the clients.

My parents and two of my brothers lived in the home.  With the clients there, it was like having six grandparents at once.  It was a very happy environment.

This was true for the clients too, no matter what their condition was or how long they had to live. My mom could make them happy even when they were dying. The clients' family members were supportive and seemed happy too and never suggested that one of the clients should die.

Today, in 2013, we no longer live in an adult family home.  My mother is a caregiver for private clients.  She also now fears for her clients, especially in the hospital.   She is afraid that the hospital will begin "comfort care" (that's morphine) and her patient will suddenly die. This has already happened.  She tries to never leave her patients alone in the hospital. Either she or a family member will be there.

She has also had one client where a family member wanted the client to do the assisted suicide.

In short, older people are no longer valued as they were before.

I hope that you will not follow our path. Vote "yes" on HB505

Elizabeth Poiana

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Daily Interlake Urges Passage of HB 505

Slippery Slope of Assisted Suicide

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/opinion/editorials/article_25f14270-9373-11e2-9930-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=print

Montanans have a libertarian leaning towards a live-and-let-live philosophy, but what about live-and-let-die?

Physician-assisted suicide continues to be the subject of legislation in Helena, and so far lawmakers have justifiably advanced legislation that would ban the practice and make it clear that “consent of the victim” is not a valid defense for a physician who assists a person with suicide.

One’s initial reaction might be to wonder why the Legislature is putting itself in a position of interfering with the autonomy of a person to choose their own demise with medical assistance. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide, after all, can and do bring heart-wrenching testimonials about people with horrible diseases simply wanting help in ending their lives.

But there are also plenty of reasons why more than 100 legislative proposals nationwide to allow physician-assisted suicide have been rejected, and why 112 Montana doctors support the bill that would ban it. Many of those reasons come from the experience of Oregon and Washington, states that passed ballot initiatives to allow physician-assisted suicide.

In those states, suicides usually aren’t actually “assisted” by physicians; doctors instead provide lethal prescriptions at the request of individuals who are mostly left on their own.

There is the story of an Oregon woman who had cancer and chose suicide 12 years ago, only to be talked out of it by her doctor. Now she is alive and well because she pursued treatment instead, and thankful that she did.

Legal Assisted Suicide Puts the Government in Your Life

With the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, the Oregon State Government received a new right, which it exercises:   The right to steer citizens to suicide with treatment and/or financial incentives.  Oregon doctor, Ken Stevens, describes this right in detail below.*

In Montana, where physician-assisted suicide is not legal, the government does not have that right.  The law in Montana is, however, in a confused state, which has opened the door to possible legalization.

To prevent that from happening, tell your legislators to vote "Yes" on HB 505! 
_____ 

*  Dr. Stevens states:

A Response to Representative Moore

Re:  Vote "Yes" on HB 505, A Response to David "Doc" Moore

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

I was moved by the recent letter in the Montana Standard by David "Doc" Moore who lost his wife to cancer eleven years ago.  He says that when she "finally slipped into a coma, we thought that there would be relief." But, instead, "it was clear from her facial expressions and the constant death rattle that she was still suffering."

In 2009, my mother died a similar painful death. But it wasn't from her condition or a disease. You see, my mother was starved and dehydrated to death with massive doses of morphine after she'd had  a mild stroke. It had not mattered that she had been trying to speak and had indicated that she wanted water. The family member holding power of attorney, affirmed by a young doctor, had decided that it was time for her to die.

Daily Interlake Urges Passage of HB 505


 Slippery Slope of Assisted Suicide

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/opinion/editorials/article_25f14270-9373-11e2-9930-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=print

Montanans have a libertarian leaning towards a live-and-let-live philosophy, but what about live-and-let-die?

Physician-assisted suicide continues to be the subject of legislation in Helena, and so far lawmakers have justifiably advanced legislation that would ban the practice and make it clear that “consent of the victim” is not a valid defense for a physician who assists a person with suicide.

One’s initial reaction might be to wonder why the Legislature is putting itself in a position of interfering with the autonomy of a person to choose their own demise with medical assistance. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide, after all, can and do bring heart-wrenching testimonials about people with horrible diseases simply wanting help in ending their lives.

But there are also plenty of reasons why more than 100 legislative proposals nationwide to allow physician-assisted suicide have been rejected, and why 112 Montana doctors support the bill that would ban it. Many of those reasons come from the experience of Oregon and Washington, states that passed ballot initiatives to allow physician-assisted suicide.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

" Vote for HB 505 to stop a bad situation from getting worse"

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

Please vote for HB 505 to prevent doctors and nurses from having more power to cause patient deaths.  They abuse the power they already have.  Please consider my mother's story below.  I urge you to vote "yes" on HB 505. 

My mother, Sharon Moe, was diagnosed with colon cancer in February of this year.  After her surgery, I was told that she may be able to live for 6 months to 2 years.  My mother was against assisted suicide and euthanasia and wanted to live as long as possible.  She was placed back in the care of the nursing facility where hospice started to care for her.  She was placed on a continual feed through a feeding tube because she was unable to take in anything orally due to her medical condition.

From the beginning, hospice wanted to stop the continual feed.  My mother was adamant that she wanted to live and told the hospice nurse that she wanted to stay on the continual feed.  My mother was able to converse and sit upright within a day or so after being taken back to the nursing facility.  Her health was improving and she was doing really well after surgery despite the fact that she was underweight from not being able to eat.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Radio Ad Featuring Jeanette Hall and Paul Gorsuch, MD

Listen to Ad Below:

Jeanette Hall:   "I’m Jeanette Hall.  If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead.  Don’t let assisted suicide come to Montana.  Tell your legislators to vote “Yes” on House Bill 505!"

Paul Gorsuch, MD:  "I’m Dr. Paul Gorsuch. On behalf of myself and a hundred other doctors, I urge you to support House Bill 505."

"House Bill 505 will protect the 'Jeanette Halls' of the world.  Twelve years ago, she had cancer and decided to "do" Oregon's assisted suicide law.  Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead."

Tell your Senators to vote "Yes" on HB 505.

Call 406 444 4800

112 Montana Physicians Who Support HB 505!

PRESS RELEASE  - To view print version, click here.  To view doctors's ad, click here.              

FOR :                IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 22 2013
FROM:             112 Physicians Who Support HB 505
CONTACT:      Paul Gorsuch, 406 761 3181, pgorbus@mac.com
           
SUBJECT:        Bill Will End the Confusion on Physician-Assisted Suicide; Will Protect Patients and Doctors

GREAT FALLS -  We are 112 Montana physicians who have joined together to support HB 505.

House Bill 505 is a short and simple bill that will clarify the law of physician-assisted suicide by clearly providing that physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.  We support HB 505 because it will protect patients and our profession.  See our ad with all of our names, cities and towns now running in many Montana papers.*

HB 505 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 9 am.  Call 406 444 4800 and tell the Committee to vote “Yes” on HB 505.

Physician assisted suicide means a physician prescribes a lethal medication to another person to commit suicide.  This practice is open to abuse and error.

“Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physicians’ role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”  (AMA ethics opinion 2.211).

We Support HB 505
  • We Support HB 505 because it will protect the “Jeanette Halls” of the world.  Twelve years ago, she had cancer and decided to “do” Oregon’s assisted suicide law.  Her doctor talked her out of it and convinced her to be treated instead.  Today, she is “thrilled to be alive.”  Her photo is in our ad.  She states: “If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead.”            
  •  We Support HB 505 because it will protect our patients.                                                                                                                         
  • We Support HB 505 because it is a NORMAL LAW (only two states allow doctors to assist suicides).  HB 505 does NOT “send doctors to prison” or prevent doctors from providing the full range of end of life care including palliative care and treatment withdrawal.  If you READ THE BILL, this is clear.
* To read our ad, go here:  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/doctors-hb505_ad_8-22x17_4color319.pdf  

To read HB 505 go here:  http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0505.pdf

Washington Doctor Alerts Senators to "Expansion" Issue

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee:

I am doctor in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal for “terminal patients” predicted to have less than six months to live.  I write to alert you to our “expansion” issue.

Our law has been in effect for just four years.  We have, however, already had proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people.  See e.g., Brian Faller, "Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act", November 16, 2011.  Last year, there was also this article in the Seattle Times, suggesting euthanasia for people who cannot afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia:  Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," March 8, 2012 at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017693023.html ("After Monday's column,  . . . a few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out.  At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.")  (Emphasis added).

I am concerned with where this is going.  I hope that Montana protects its citizens by enacting HB 505.

Richard Wonderly, MD
Seattle Washington

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"This ad is appalling, even by the low standards of Compassion & Choices"

Dear Judiciary Members:

I am a probate attorney from Washington State where assisted suicide is, unfortunately, legal.

I recently saw an ad by “Compassion and Choices” which contained an over-the-top depiction of a doctor in handcuffs.  This ad is appalling, even by the low standards of Compassion in Choices.  (Compassion and Choices is a successor organization of the Hemlock Society, originally founded by Derek Humphry.  In 2011, Humphry was keynote speaker and Compassion and Choices annual meeting here in Washington.  He was also in the news as a promoter of mail-order suicide kits after a 29 year old man used one of the kits to commit suicide).*

HB 505 is needed to protect seniors and others from the ultimate in financial and physical abuse.  I urge you to vote YES.  Thank you.

Theresa Schrempp
Seattle, WA   

*  For supporting authority and more information, go here: http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2012/12/compassion-choices-is-successor.html

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Legalizing assisted suicide results in causing non-dying persons to be steered to suicide" - Support HB 505

Dear Members of the Montana State Senate Judiciary Committee,

I am writing in support of HB 505, which would clarify that physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

I am a doctor in Oregon, one of two states where assisted-suicide is legal. My personal experience in Oregon has shown me that legalizing assisted suicide results in causing non-dying persons to be steered to suicide.

Oregon’s assisted-suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. In 2000, I had a cancer patient named Jeanette Hall. Another doctor had given her a terminal diagnosis of six months to a year to live. This was based on her not being treated for cancer.

At our first meeting, Jeanette told me that she did not want to be treated, and that she wanted to opt for what our law allowed – to kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates.  She informed me that she had voted for assisted suicide, and that is what she wanted. 

I did not and do not believe in assisted suicide. I informed her that her cancer was treatable and that her prospects were good. But she told me she didn't want the treatment, she wanted “the pills.” She had made up her mind, but she continued to see me weekly.  On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel if she went through with her plan. Shortly after that, she agreed to be treated, and her cancer was cured.

Five years later she saw me in a restaurant and said, “Dr. Stevens, you saved my life!”  She realized that if I had believed in assisted suicide, that she would not have enjoyed her past 5 years.  She is now alive and enjoying life over 12 years since her cancer diagnosis and successful treatment.

For her, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide.

I understand that you will be considering HB 505 next week.  I encourage you to be aware of the dangers of assisted suicide, and that you will do your part to keep it out of Montana.  Please vote yes on HB 505.

Sincerely, 


Kenneth Stevens, MD,
Professor Emeritus, Radiation Oncology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not Dead Yet Supports HB 505

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee Member:

Not Dead Yet is a national disability rights group with members in Montana.  On behalf of our members, I write to say that we urge you to pass HB 505, which is a short and simple bill to prevent legalization of assisted suicide and end the dispute over whether it is legal in Montana.

In the last two years, three other states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide (Idaho, Georgia and Louisiana).  Not Dead Yet of Georgia was involved in the Georgia efforts.  We met with a woman, Sue Celmer, whose ex-husband had been assisted to commit suicide by Final Exit Network.  He had previously battled cancer, but was cancer free when these suicide predators assisted him.  Her story helped convey the urgency of legislation banning assisted suicide.   We hope that Montana will join Georgia and the other two states to protect older people, our families and ourselves.

Why HB 505 is Needed Now

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

A.  Baxter is Confusing

The Baxter case did not legalize physician-assisted suicide. Suicide proponents, including Dr. Stephen Speckart, have conceded the lack of legality.[1]  Baxter is, however, confusing with even lawyers unable to agree on its meaning.[2] 

B.  The Confusion has Allowed Suicide Proponents to Claim that Assisted Suicide is Legal

This confusion has allowed suicide proponents to claim that assisted suicide is legal.  Indeed, they have convinced the Board of Medical Examiners to issue a statement implying that assisted suicide is legal. 
This is "Position Statement No. 20," also called "Board Advisory No. 20." [3]

C.  Suicide Proponents are Recruiting Doctors; Doctors and the Public are at Risk

Suicide proponents have been actively recruiting doctors to perform assisted suicides with the false assurance that it is legally safe to do so.[4]  A doctor so recruited could find himself sued or even convicted of a homicide.  On the other hand, the present confusion could frustrate a civil and/or criminal action by an aggrieved party, such as a son and daughter outraged that the doctor has caused their father's suicide.

With the present situation, it’s hard to know legally what will happen.  Meanwhile, there is no assurance that any such suicide will be voluntary and/or not the product of abuse or coercion, for example, in the inheritance situation.  There is no assurance that the victim will not be a person with many quality years left to live, if only he or she had not been steered to suicide.

D.  The Solution
 

If instead, the law is clarified that physician-assisted suicide is not legal, there will be a clear tool for law enforcement, the medical profession and other interested parties to protect citizens from the negative consequences of assisted suicide legalization  (pressure, steerage, people throwing their lives away,  etc.).

HB 505 does this by clarifying Montana’s existing prohibition against “aiding or soliciting suicide” in 45-5-105.  The bill states:

 "A person who purposely aids or solicits another person to commit suicide, but such suicide does not occur, including physician-assisted suicide, commits the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide."[5]


E.  Tell Your Senator to Vote "Yes" on HB 505

This is why HB 505 is needed now, to stop the confusion to protect both doctors and the public.  Tell your Senators to vote "Yes" on HB 505!

Footnotes

[1]  In 2009, Dr. Speckart testified in support of SB 167, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  He said:  "[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision."  See transcript at  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/speckart-transcript.pdf
Senator Anders Blewett made a similar concession, stating:  “[U]nder current law, ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”   See transcript at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf
[2]  See e.g. The Montana Lawyer, November 2011, Cover Story:  "The aid-in-dying debate: Can a physician legally help a patient to die in Montana?  Court ruling still leaves the issue open to argument, (with pro-con articles by Senator Anders Blewett and Senator Jim Shockley with Margaret Dore, available at  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/mt-lawyer-cover-story_001.pdf
[3]  The current version of "Position Statement No. 20" is available at http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/med_board/pdf/physician_aid_in_dying.pdf  
[4]  See letter from Stephen Speckart and George Risi, to all active Montana doctors, dated March 5, 2012 (falsely stating that “no basis exists [under Baxter] to prosecute a physician for providing aid in dying [physician-assisted suicide]”).  Available at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/risispeckart_ltr_001.pdf  This letter attaches the original version of "Position Statement No. 20"  
[5]  HB 505 can be viewed here:  http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0505.pdf 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Do So Many Disability Groups Oppose Physician Assisted Suicide?

by:  James D. McGaughey, Executive Director,
Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. 
(Adapted from an article that originally appeared in the
International Social Role Valorization Journal in 2010.)

In 2009, a proposal that would have legalized Physician Assisted Suicide was introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly.  The language of that proposal paralleled legislation being pursued in other states by Compassion and Choices, a successor organization to the Hemlock Society.  When the proposal was withdrawn without a public hearing, Compassion and Choices moved to the Courts, seeking a judicial ruling that provisions of the Connecticut Statutes prohibiting assisting a person to commit suicide should not be applied to physicians who write lethal prescriptions for their patients.  Their lawsuit was dismissed.  Now, in 2013, it appears that another attempt to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide is being made in Connecticut.  While the details of the current proposals are unavailable as of this writing, they will likely be similar to proposals that are being pursued in other states – proposals that have drawn stiff opposition from disability advocates in those states.
 
Proponents of legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide argue that it’s all about compassion and personal autonomy.  Citing examples of individuals who have ended, or who apparently want to end their lives by taking lethal doses of prescribed drugs, they propose adoption of the euphemistic term “assistance with dying”, and suggest Physician Assisted Suicide be seen as a compassionate alternative to suffering intractable pain or endless, intrusive, de-dignifying medical interventions.  If all we hear is their side of the story it seems reasonable enough.  After all, shouldn’t we have the option of avoiding an ignoble end?  Shouldn’t our doctors be able to prescribe drugs that will do the job quietly and professionally?  Isn’t this a matter of personal choice? What’s wrong with just having the option?  

Leading disability rights groups see plenty of problems with it. A number of well respected organizations, including the National Council on Disability, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, the World Institute on Disability, Justice For All, TASH (formerly called The Association of the Severely Handicapped), the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), and grass roots groups such as ADAPT and Not Dead Yet have all adopted positions opposing legalization of assisted suicide.  In fact, members of many of these groups have been teaming up with local independent living centers and state-level advocacy coalitions to challenge the state-by state campaign to promote Physician Assisted Suicide.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

" I support House Bill 505, which clearly states that assisted suicide is not legal"

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20130313/OPINION/303130037/On-our-minds-Fires-suicide-bill-breweries

My husband, Dr. James E. Mungas, was a respected physician and surgeon here in Great Falls. He developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and I took care of him. His mind was clear and thought processes unimpaired. He was against assisted suicide and euthanasia.

I needed to travel out of town for a day and a half. We agreed he would stay at a local care facility in my absence. Once there, nurses began administering morphine. After the first dose, my husband knew that he had been overdosed and typed out a message to call respiratory therapy. None came that day. Over the next few days, he struggled to breathe and desperately struggled to remain conscious to communicate, but the nurses kept pushing the morphine button and advised our children to do the same. My children and I did not understand the extent morphine would repress the respiratory system until later.  This was neither palliative care nor managing pain; this was hastening death. He was effectively euthanized against his will. He did not get his choice. It is traumatic, still, to realize his last communications were attempts to get help.

As illustrated by my husband's case, doctors and nurses already misuse or abuse the power they have. The stakes are too high to consider expanding their power by legalizing assisted-suicide. The recent guest column by Dr. Stephen Speckart and other doctors claims that assisted suicide is already legal. For that reason, I support House Bill 505, which clearly states that assisted suicide is not legal.

— Carol Mungas,
Great Falls

Friday, March 15, 2013

Oregon's New Report Consistent with Elder Abuse

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

Oregon's assisted suicide statistics are out for 2012.[1]

This annual report is similar to prior years.  The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject.[2]

Oregon's assisted suicide law allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight.[3]  This creates the opportunity 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, for example, when the patient is asleep.  Who would know?

The new Oregon report provides the following demographics:  

"Of the 77 DWDA deaths during 2012, most (67.5%) were aged 65 years or older; the median age was 69 years.  As in previous years, most were white (97.4%), [and] well-educated (42.9% had at least a baccalaureate degree) . . . ."[4]  Most (51.4%) had private health insurance.[5]

Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately victims of financial abuse and exploitation.[6]

As set forth above, Oregon's law is written so as to allow the lethal dose to be administered to patients without their consent and without anyone knowing how they died.  The law thus provides the opportunity for the perfect crime.  Per the new report, the persons dying (or killed) under that law are  disproportionately seniors with money, a group disproportionately victimized by financial abuse and exploitation.

Oregon's new report is consistent with elder abuse.

Footnotes:

[1]  The new report can be viewed here: http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/year15.pdf and http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/year-15-2012.pdf
[2]  Id.
[3]  Oregon's law can be viewed here:  http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/ors.aspx
[4]  Report cited at note 1.
[5]  Id.
[6]  See "Broken Trust:  Elders, Family, and Finances," a Study on Elder Financial Abuse Prevention, by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, March 2009.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pass HB 505 - Rick Blevins, MD

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303120037

The Montana Legislature is considering the question of physician-assisted suicide. The Senate has rejected an Oregon-style bill that would have legalized such a practice. The House has passed House Bill 505, which will end the confusion about assisted suicide in Montana. I am in favor of this bill and wish to clarify misconceptions expressed in a Viewpoint article published March 4.


HB 505 seeks to clarify the relevant law, which has been misinterpreted as a result of the Montana Supreme Court Baxter decision of 2009. This decision did not legalize physician assisted suicide, contrary to claims made by authors of the Viewpoint article. The court only stated that a patient’s consent, if given, may be used as a legal defense. Lawyers are scratching their heads about the meaning and the ramifications of this decision which is why the Legislature should act to provide needed clarity.


HB 505 only addresses the aiding or solicitation of suicide, including physician-assisted suicide. It specifically “does not include end of life palliative care in which a dying person receives medication to alleviate pain that may incidentally hasten the dying person’s death or any act to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment” authorized by the Montana Rights of the Terminally Ill Act. The quotes are directly from the text of HB 505.

Please contact your senators and tell them to end the confusion. Please tell them to vote “yes” on HB 505.— Rick Blevins, M.D.,

Don’t make Washington’s assisted-suicide mistake

http://mtstandard.com/news/opinion/mailbag/don-t-make-washington-s-assisted-suicide-mistake/article_10022e80-8b75-11e2-b398-001a4bcf887a.html?print=true&cid=print


My husband and I operate two adult family homes (elder care facilities) in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. I am writing to urge you to not make Washington’s mistake.

Our assisted suicide law was enacted by a ballot measure in November 2008. During the election, the law was promoted as a right of individual people to make their own choices. That has not been our experience. We have also noticed a shift in the attitudes of doctors and nurses towards our typically elderly clients to eliminate their choices.

Four days after the election, an adult child of one of our clients asked about getting the pills (to kill his father). It wasn’t the client saying that he wanted to die. At that time, our assisted suicide law had not yet gone into effect. The father died before the law went into effect.

Since then, we have noticed that some members of the medical profession are quick to bring out the morphine to begin comfort care without considering treatment. Sometimes they do this on their own without telling the client and/or the family member in charge of the clients care.

Since our law was passed, I have also observed that some medical professionals are quick to write off older people as having no quality of life whereas in years past, most of the professionals we dealt with found joy in caring for them. Our clients reciprocated that joy and respect.

Someday, we too will be old. I, personally, want to be cared for and have my choices respected. I, for one, am quite uncomfortable with these developments. Don’t make our mistake.

Elizabeth Benedetto

Possible expansion of physician-assisted suicide laws in other states should concern Montana

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/possible-expansion-of-physician-assisted-suicide-laws-in-other-states/article_e29d5322-8b2c-11e2-aba7-001a4bcf887a.html

I am doctor in Washington state where physician-assisted suicide is legal for “terminal patients” predicted to have less than six months to live. I disagree with the letter by Kristen Wood (letter, Feb. 28) that expansion is not a concern in this context.

In Washington state, our assisted suicide law has only been in effect for four years. We have, however, already had proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people. See e.g., Brian Faller, “Perhaps it’s time to expand Washington’s Death with Dignity Act,” Nov. 16, 2011. Last year, there was also this article in the Seattle Times, suggesting euthanasia for people who cannot afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia: Jerry Large, “Planning for old age at a premium,” March 8, 2012 at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017693023.html (“After Monday’s column, . . . a few (readers) suggested that if you couldn’t save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn’t expect society to bail you out. At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.“)

I am very concerned with where this is all going. I hope that Montana does not follow our lead to legalize assisted suicide.

Richard Wonderly,
Seattle, Washington

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"He made the mistake of asking for information about assisted suicide"


Legalizing assisted suicide allows physicians to pressure patients

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/legalizing-assisted-suicide-allows-physicians-to-pressure-patients/article_5726f258-84fb-11e2-9707-001a4bcf887a.html

Last year, my brother, Wes Olfert, died in Washington state, where assisted suicide is legal.

When he was first admitted to the hospital, he made the mistake of asking for information about assisted suicide. I say a mistake, because this set off a chain of events that interfered with his care and caused him unnecessary stress in what turned out to be the last months of his life.

By asking the question, he was given a “palliative care” consult by a doctor who heavily and continually pressured him to give up on treatment before he was ready to do so. It got so bad that Wes actually became fearful of this doctor and asked me and a friend to not leave him alone with her. Justified or not, Wes was afraid that the doctor would do something to him or have him sign something if she would find him alone.

In fact, even though he was on heavy doses of narcotic pain medications and not in a clear state of mind to sign documents without someone to advocate for him, this palliative care MD actually did try to get him to sign a DNR or “Do Not Resuscitate” form without his Durable POA or any family member present. Fortunately, his close friend/POA arrived at that moment to stop this from happening. Some of the other doctors and staff members seemed to also write Wes off once they learned that he had asked about assisted suicide.

I am writing to urge your readers to prevent assisted suicide in Montana. I do this on behalf of myself and my other brother, Ron Olfert, of Sanders County, who also died last year. He was strongly opposed to assisted suicide.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to vote “yes” on House Bill 505.

Marlene Deakins, RN
Tuscon, Arizona

Friday, March 8, 2013

The "Oregon Experience" Includes Murder-Suicide

Increased Suicide

Oregon’s overall suicide rate, which excludes suicide under Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide act, is 35% above the national average.  Moreover, this rate has been “increasing significantly since 2000.”  See  http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0909a.pdf  Just three years prior, in 1997, Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide.  Other suicides have thus increased with legalization of physician-assisted suicide.  This is consistent with a copy cat or suicide contagion phenomenon (normalizing one type of suicide, i.e., physician assisted suicide, encouraged other suicides).

Violent Death

In Oregon, many suicide deaths are violent.  For 2007, “[f]irearms were the dominant mechanism of suicide among men.”  This is according to an Oregon Department of Human Services report issued in September 2010.  See excerpts here:  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/oregon-suicide-info_0011.pdf 

Murder-Suicide

In Oregon, murder-suicides "follow the national pattern."  http://blog.oregonlive.com/health_impact/print.html?entry=/2009/11/recent_murder-suicides_follow.html


The Wife Would Still be a Victim

According to  Donna Cohen, the typical murder-suicide case involves a depressed controlling husband who shoots his ill wife:  “The wife does not want to die and is often shot in her sleep.  If she was awake at the time, there are usually signs that she tried to defend herself.”   See WebMD,  "Murder-Suicides in Elderly Rise: Husbands commit most murder suicides–without wives’ consent," January 30, 2005,  http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50782

If physician assisted suicide were legal in Montana, the wife, not wanting to die, would still be a victim. 

"Because of my mother's experiences, I no longer believe in "physician-assisted suicide." Support House Bill 505."


Family member's 'accidental' death provides example for opposition to assisted suicide

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_2051b845-5a8d-5cdc-be0e-0b7bfbb5e2bf.html?comment_form=true 

This letter is being written for a right to live.  We taxpayers paid a phenomenal amount of money when others decided it was time for my mother to die.  She would not die!  Three times she defied attempts on her life, costing her bed sores, hospice and her daughter being arrested while helping her (the latter arrest record was dismissed).

Mom succumbed in the hospital on Sept. 6, 2010.  The coroner's report case No. 100906 lists congestive heart failure with oxygen deprivation and fentanyl therapy.  The manner of death: accident.

Fentanyl is reported "to be 80 to 200 times as potent as morphine."  A fentanyl patch of 100 mcg/hour has a range within 24 hours of 1.9-3.8ng/mL. Mom's death result was 2.7 ng/mL on or about 48 hours.

Complaint No. 2012-069-MED was filed with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry Board of Medical Examiners. The screening panel voted to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, which means the board may not consider the complaint in the future.

Because of my mother's experiences, I no longer believe in "physician-assisted suicide."  Support House Bill 505.

Gail Bell,
Bozeman

Thursday, March 7, 2013

HB 505 Text

For a print copyclick here 

A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT CLARIFYING THE OFFENSE OF AIDING OR SOLICITING SUICIDE; CLARIFYING THAT PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE IS A FORM OF AIDING OR SOLICITING SUICIDE; CLARIFYING THAT THE CONSENT OF A VICTIM IS NOT A DEFENSE TO AIDING OR SOLICITING SUICIDE; PROVIDING DEFINITIONS; AMENDING SECTION 45-5-105, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND AN APPLICABILITY DATE."

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:

Section 1. Section 45-5-105, MCA, is amended to read:

"45-5-105. Aiding or soliciting suicide. (1) A person who purposely aids or solicits another person to commit suicide, but such suicide does not occur, including physician-assisted suicide, commits the offense of aiding or soliciting suicide.