Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Washington State: "Hear No Evil, See No Evil"

Dear Editor:

Margaret K. Dore's article regarding Washington's assisted suicide law [Bar Bulletin, July] highlights a troubling disconnect between this statute and the commendable trend in Washington law to recognize and protect elders from abuse.

On the one hand, the Slayer's Statute, RCW 11.84, was recently amended to penalize heirs who financially exploit a vulnerable adult. On the other hand, safeguards for assisted suicide are minimal, far less than the standards demanded for executing a valid will. As Ms. Dore points out, record-keeping by the state appears to consist of the "hear-no-evil, see-no-evil" variety.

Theresa Schrempp
Sonkin & Schrempp, PLLC

To view Dore's article, "Assisted-Suicide Report Lacks Information about Consent, click here.

To view Washington's official report, click here.

To view the above letter, go here (the link may not work for non-bar members):  https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=09&Year=2011&AID=letters.htm

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Emperor Has No Clothes: "VSED"

Compassion & Choices, the Denver-based organization behind the push to legalize assisted suicide in Montana, has a new campaign.  They call it VSED: "Voluntarily" stopping eating and drinking.  Below, Kate Kelly provides a real life example: "I watched her suffer." 


Mild stroke led to mother's forced starvation 
By Kate Kelly

I watched an old woman die of hunger and thirst.  She had Alzheimer's, this old woman, and was child-like, trusting, vulnerable, with a child's delight at treats of chocolate and ice cream, and a child's fear and frustration when tired or ill.

I watched her die for six days and nights.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Senator Blewett's Statements Concede That Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

Health care:  State doesn't need legal suicide,
Published in the Missoulian, Wednesday, June 15, 2011 8:45 am

I am amazed with the letter by Sen. Anders Blewett claiming that doctors can't be convicted of homicide if they cause or assist a suicide in Montana ("Physician aid in dying: Bill's rejection a step forward," June 10). His bill, Senate Bill 167, which would have accomplished that goal, was defeated this last legislative session.

Blewett's current claim is also the exact opposite of what he said when he was trying to get his bill passed. I have transcripts from the hearings on SB167. Blewett's quotes include: "under the current law ... there's nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution." Similar statements were made by others. For example, Dr. Stephen Speckart testified: "most physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision." 

To view transcript excerpts, go here: http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf

Blewett's current claim is also contrary to the analysis of Montana attorney Greg Jackson, who with attorney Matt Bowman, states: "The Montana Supreme Court's assisted suicide decision ... didn't even 'legalize' assisted suicide ... After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved."  http://montanansagainstassistedsuicide.blogspot.com/p/baxter-case-analysis.html 

Blewett's bill, SB167, was defeated because it was a doctor-protection bill at the expense of individual patient rights. Legal assisted suicide is also a recipe for elder abuse in which heirs and others are empowered to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, patients desiring treatment have been offered assisted suicide instead. With the gaps in that law, patients are also unprotected from someone administering the lethal dose to them against their will.

Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. Let's keep it that way.

Sen. Greg Hinkle, Thompson Falls

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Legal Analysis of SB 167

In the 2011 Legislative Session, Senator Anders Blewett sponsored SB 167, which would have legalized Oregon-style assisted suicide in Montana.  The bill failed in Committee the day after it was heard.  To read an analysis of that bill, go here.