Showing posts with label vermont. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vermont. Show all posts

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Oregon Runs Out of Death Drugs

By Wesley Smith - May 22, 2014 (originally published on Wesley Smith's blog

Wesley Smith
It appears that Oregon has run dry on death drugs. You see death penalty opponents have made the supply of a prime death-causing drug used in assisted suicide scarce. Of course, the media misses the irony. From the Willamette Week story:
Death-with-dignity [assisted suicide] patients are victims of a global political battle over capital punishment in the U.S., according to the federal Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceuticals, and the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees application of the state’s Death With Dignity Act. 
Access to pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal, has all but ended in the United States because U.S. prison officials use it in lethal injections for executions.
Like I always say, “cruel and unusual death with dignity.

Now, it seems to me that if the drugs are wrong to use in lawful executions, they are also wrong to prescribe to people who want to kill themselves. Death-causing is death-causing, and that ain’t medicine.

But not to worry, the Hemlock Society C & C wants to go in the death-drug distribution trade:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vermont Assisted Suicide Law: One year later ...

The following report was published by True Dignity Vermont on May 20, 2014.

A year ago today, at the bill signing party for Act 39 held in the Governor’s ceremonial office, True Dignity Vermont launched a hotline and email address for individuals who suspect that a patient was being unduly influenced to request or ingest lethal drugs, or were being given such drugs against their will. That number is: 1-855-787-5455 or 1-855-STP-KILL, and ReportAbuse@TrueDignityVt.org.
“We expanded our educational role to become a place where our network of health care providers and other supporters would have a place to take their concerns,” stated True Dignity spokesperson, Carolyn McMurray of Bennington. “The most alarming reports we have received to date involve two separate clinical psychologists, dealing with two different patients, both of whom had suicidal tendencies. In each case, the patients revealed their belief that suicide was more ‘acceptable’ now that the legislature had passed this law.”
Shortly after Act 39 went into effect, True Dignity Vermont received a call from a woman convinced that a health care facility was intentionally withholding treatment from her elderly mother. TDVT recommended that she contact the appropriate experts for further investigation.
Nearly six weeks ago, True Dignity Vermont received a call from an 85 year-old Korean War veteran from New Jersey who wanted information about how he could come here and get a “shot” to end his life. During the conversation, he revealed that he was not terminally-ill, nor physically ill in anyway. He said he was depressed, and he said the suffering of depression was terrible. The man believed, with all his heart, that the new law meant that he could come to Vermont and a physician would end his life. True Dignity Representative told him we did not want him to commit suicide and talked to him for as long as he wanted to talk. He said it helped him a lot to talk. The representative told him to get professional help and invited him to call back to talk whenever he wished. He has not called back.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebration Dinner - May 30 - Nashua New Hampshire

John Kelly
Nancy Elliott has organized a Victory Celebration Dinner on Friday, May 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua New Hamphsire to celebrate the overwhelming defeat of assisted suicide in NH. The celebration extends to other New England states, including: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Quebec. 

John Kelly the New England regional director for Not Dead Yet, will be the dinner speaker. The cost for the dinner is $35.

There will be a leaders meeting in the afternoon of May 30. 
For more information contact Alex Schadenberg.

Book a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for $119 under the name "Euthanasia Prevention Coalition" by calling: 1-603-886-1200.


Payment to (Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) Box 611309 Port Huron MI 48061-1309.

Contact Alex Schadenberg at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca
or contact Nancy Elliott at: mmknhrep@gmail.com

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Guardianship, Elder Abuse and Assisted Suicide: A personal shift in focus.

By Margaret K. Dore, Esq., MBA
The Voice of Experience, American Bar Association
Volume 25, No. 4, Winter 2014


Margaret Dore
(Link to the published article)

I graduated from law school in 1986. I first worked for the courts and then for the United States Department of Justice. After that, I worked for other lawyers, and then, in 1994, I officially started my own practice in Washington State. Like many lawyers with a new practice, I signed up for court-appointed work in the guardianship/probate context. This was mostly guardian ad litem work. Once in awhile, I was appointed as an attorney for a proposed ward, termed an “alleged incapacitated person.” In other states, a guardianship might be called a “conservatorship” or an “interdiction.” A guardian ad litem might be called a “court visitor.”

My Guardianship Cases

Most of my guardianship cases were straightforward. There would typically be a elderly person who could no longer handle his or her affairs. I would be the guardian ad litem. My job would be to determine whether the person needed a guardian, and if that were the case, to recommend a person or agency to fill that role.

My work also included private pay cases with moderate estates. With these cases, I would sometimes see financial abuse and exploitation. For example, there was an elderly woman whose nephew took her to the bank each week to obtain a large cash withdrawal. She had dementia, but she could pass as “competent” to get the money. In another case, “an old friend from 30 years ago” took “Jim,” a 90 year old man, to lunch. The friend invited Jim to live with him in exchange for making the friend sole beneficiary of his will. Jim agreed. The will was executed and he went to live with the friend in a nearby town. A guardianship was started and I was appointed guardian ad litem. I drove to the friend’s house, which was dilapidated. Jim did not seem to have his own room. I asked him if he would like to go home. He said “yes” and got in my car. He was not incompetent, but he had allowed someone else to take advantage of him. In another case, there was a disabled man whose caregiver had used his credit card to remodel her home. He too was competent, but he had been unable to protect himself.

In those first few years, I loved my guardianship cases. I had been close to my grandmother and enjoyed working with older people. I met guardians and other people who genuinely wanted to help others.

But then I got a case involving a competent man who had been railroaded into guardianship. The guardian, a company, refused to let him out. The guardian also appeared to be churning the case, i.e., causing conflict and then billing for work to respond to the conflict and/or to cause more conflict. I have an accounting background and also saw markers of embezzlement. I tried to tell the court, but the supervising commissioner didn’t know much about accounting. She allowed the guardian to hire its own CPA to investigate the situation, which predictably exonerated the guardian. The guardian had many cases and if what I said had been proved true, there would have been political fallout. There were also conflicts of interest among the lawyers.

At this point, the scales began to fall from my eyes. My focus started to shift from working within the system to seeing how the system itself sometimes facilitates abuse. This led me to write articles addressing some of the system’s flaws.  See e.g., Margaret K. Dore, Ten Reasons People Get Railroaded into Guardianship, 21 AM. J. FAM. L. 148 (2008), available at: (Link); Margaret K. Dore, The Time is Now: Guardians Should be Licensed and Regulated Under the Executive Branch, Not the Courts, WASH. ST. B. ASS’N B. NEWS, Mar. 2007 at 27-9, available at: (Link).

The MetLife Studies 

In 2009, the MetLife Mature Market Institute released its landmark study on elder financial abuse. (Link) The estimated financial loss by victims in the United States was $2.6 billion per year.

The study also explained that perpetrators are often family members, some of whom feel themselves “entitled” to the elder’s assets. The study states that perpetrators start out with small crimes, such as stealing jewelry and blank checks, before moving on to larger items or coercing elders to sign over the deeds to their homes, change their wills or liquidate their assets.

In 2011, Met Life released another study available at (Link), which described how financial abuse can be catalyst for other types of abuse and which was illustrated by the following example. “A woman barely came away with her life after her caretaker of four years stole money from her and pushed her wheelchair in front of a train. After the incident the woman said, “We were so good of friends . . . I’m so hurt that I can’t stop crying.”

Failure to Report

A big reason that elder abuse and exploitation are prevalent is that victims do not report. This failure to report can be for many reasons. A mother being abused by her son might not want him to go to jail. She might also be humiliated, ashamed or embarrassed about what’s happening. She might be legitimately afraid that if she reveals the abuse, she will be put under guardianship.

The statistics that I’ve seen on unreported cases vary, from only 2 in 4 cases being reported, to one in 20 cases. Elder abuse and exploitation are, regardless, a largely uncontrolled problem.

A New Development: Legalized Assisted Suicide

Another development relevant to abuse and exploitation is the ongoing push to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States. “Assisted suicide” means that someone provides the means and/or information for another person to commit suicide. If the assisting person is a physician who prescribes a lethal dose, a more precise term is “physician-assisted suicide.”  “Euthanasia,” by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person’s death.

In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is legal in three states: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. Eligible patients are required to be “terminal,” which means having less than six months to live. Such patients, however, are not necessarily dying. One reason is because expectations of life expectancy can be wrong. Treatment can also lead to recovery. I have a friend who was talked out of using Oregon’s law in 2000. Her doctor, who did not believe in assisted suicide, convinced her to be treated instead. She is still alive today, 13 years later.

Oregon’s law was enacted by a ballot measure in 1997. Washington’s law was passed by another measure in 2008 and went into effect in 2009. Vermont’s law was enacted on May 20, 2013. All three laws are a recipe for abuse. One reason is that they allow someone else to talk for the patient during the lethal dose request process. Moreover, once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight over administration. Even if the patient struggled, who would know? [See: Link]

Here in Washington State, we have already had informal proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. The first time I saw this was in a newspaper article in 2011. More recently, there was a newspaper column suggesting euthanasia “if you couldn’t save enough money to see yourself through your old age,” which would be involuntary euthanasia. Prior to our law being passed, I never heard anyone talk like this.

I have written multiple articles discussing problems with legalization, including Margaret K. Dore, "Death with Dignity”: What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King Co. B. ASS’N, B. BuLL., May 2009, available at: (Link) ; Margaret K. Dore, Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice, 52 THE ADVOCATE [the official publication of the Idaho State Bar] 9, 18-20 (Sept. 2013) available at: (Link). 

My Cases Involving the Oregon and Washington Assisted Suicide Laws

I have had two clients whose parents 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.

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.

Conclusion

In my guardianship cases, people were financially abused and sometimes treated terribly, but nobody died and sometimes we were able to make their lives much better. With legal assisted suicide, the abuse is final. Don’t make Washington’s mistake.

Margaret K. Dore (margaretdore@margaretdore.com) JD, MBA, is an attorney in private practice in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. She is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington State Court of Appeals. She worked for a year with the U.S. Department of Justice and is president of Choice is an Illusion, www.choiceillusion.org, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Mexico Lower Court Parrots the Language and Platitudes of Assisted Suicide Advocacy Groups

Disability rights group - Not Dead Yet, published the following commentary on their blog yesterday.

Link to: Attorney General must appeal Assisted Suicide court decision in New Mexico.

Link to the online petition: Protect New Mexico Citizens from Assisted Suicide.


Diane Coleman
By Diane Coleman:

As many of our readers have heard by now, a New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge has ruled that the state constitution establishes a fundamental right of people who are diagnosed as terminally ill to receive a lethal prescription from a doctor, with a corresponding right of the doctor not to be prosecuted under the state law that prohibits assisted suicide.

The judge admitted that the conduct involved would fall within the prohibition on assisted suicide enacted by the state legislature, and that the legislature was aware of the public debate on the issue and wrote the law in a way that clearly included physician assisted suicide. She even admitted that calling it “aid in dying”, as assisted suicide proponents advocate, doesn’t change the fact that it is prohibited by the statute. But she ruled that the state constitution makes “aid in dying” a fundamental right. On that basis, she carved it out of the statute, asserting that no state interest justified limiting the fundamental right, thus declaring the statute unconstitutional as to “aid in dying.”


Stephen Drake has been talking about the proponents’ word game in promoting the term “aid in dying” for years. I’ll refer readers to his entertaining piece entitled Using and Promoting Change of Language to Make the Objectionable Acceptable.

The effort to sell this language as a way of avoiding substantive concerns did not get anywhere in Connecticut. As I pointed out in my blog on a 2012 interview about the New Mexico case with Health Policy Solutions (Doctors, patient challenge New Mexico assisted suicide ban), the Connecticut court viewed this as more appropriate for legislative than judicial action, stating:
Legislative determination is particularly important given the significant medical legal and ethical concerns about legalized physician assisted suicide that have been raised across the country. Among the other difficult and important public policy concerns that the legislature would have to evaluate – and is uniquely positioned in our system of government to evaluate – are the following: 
-  Whether physician-assisted suicide threatens the most vulnerable in society, including the poor, the elderly, and the disabled, who are at risk of being threatened, coerced, or influenced to end their lives to spare their families the financial costs and emotional strain of caring for them; …  
- Whether physician-assisted suicide shifts the focus of physicians and insurers away from vitally important measures such as identifying and treating depression and providing end-of-life pain control and palliative care; . . .  
- Whether physician-assisted suicide undermines the physician-patient relationship and the integrity of the medical profession by eroding patient trust in the doctor’s role as healer;…  
- Whether physician-assisted suicide opens the door to the possibility of involuntary euthanasia, as has occurred in the Netherlands, because “what is couched as a limited right to ‘physician-assisted suicide’ is likely, in effect, a much broader license which could prove extremely difficult to police and contain,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 733 (1997). (Blick Decision on Motion to Dismiss.)
The New Mexico judge didn’t seem to feel the need to get into all that. In fact, the “Findings of Fact” read like C&C platitudes and propaganda rather than objective statements of fact. Just to highlight two of them:
[Finding of Fact] 31. Where it is permitted, the application for an aid in dying prescription must be made by the mentally competent, terminally ill patient and cannot be made by a surrogate decision maker.
But the Oregon, Washington and Vermont statutes all say that your request for a lethal prescription can be made by someone else familiar with your manner of communicating, which would include the typical surrogate. The disability experience is that doctors all too often prefer to talk to a relative or other companion rather than the person with a disability.
[Finding of Fact] 32. Where it is permitted, an aid in dying prescription must be self-administered by the mentally competent, terminally ill patient and cannot be administered by a surrogate decision maker.
As elder law attorney Margaret Dore has pointed out, assisted suicide statutes provide that the person must be competent at the time of the request for a lethal prescription, but say nothing about the time the dose is administered. More importantly, no independent witness is required at the death, and without such witness, there’s no way to know whether the fatal drugs were administered by the person or their surrogate.

It all comes back to the conclusion I reached about the New Mexico case when I last wrote about it:
The New Mexico plaintiffs are all people who seem privileged enough to be justified in their confidence that the patient in this case will not be coerced into assisted suicide, will not be denied care that she wants, will not be treated like an unwanted burden on those around her, and is not at risk of being administered the lethal drugs without her consent. 
It would be nice if everyone with a difficult illness could have the same confidence.  But in the real world, where elder abuse is on the rise, C&C’s platitudes should not distract us from our collective obligation to consider the impact on everyone, not just the privileged few.
What needs to happen next is an appeal by the New Mexico Attorney General. Please contact: AG Gary King through his Director of Communications Phil Sisneros at:  psisneros@nmag.gov to urge that essential next step.

 Link to the online petition: Protect New Mexico Citizens from Assisted Suicide.

Diane Coleman

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wesley Smith: The Suicide Juggernaut

Wesley Smith
This article was written by Wesley Smith and published in the Weekly Standard (December 30, 2013 issue
Advocates of assisted suicide tell two—no, three—lies that act as the honey to help the hemlock go down. The first is that assisted suicide/euthanasia is a strictly medical act. Second, they falsely assure us that medicalized killing is only for the terminally ill. Finally, they promise that strict guidelines will be rigorously enforced to protect against abuse.
Recent legislative proposals and developments in the field demonstrate the mendacity of these assurances. For example, a new bill tabled in the Scottish parliament would legalize assisted suicide for “terminal” or “progressive and either terminal or life-shortening” conditions—undefined terms that could easily include chronic ailments such as diabetes, asymptomatic HIV infection, and multiple sclerosis.
Such loose categories are ubiquitous in international assisted suicide advocacy. But the Scottish bill goes a radical step further by creating a new profession—the “licensed suicide facilitator,” authorized by the state to help suicidal patients kill themselves once a doctor has issued a lethal prescription. 
Licensed facilitators would be authorized to provide “practical assistance” in the suicide and “reassurance” when a substance “dispensed or otherwise supplied for the suicide of the person is taken.” They would also be authorized to remove lethal drugs—presumably narcotics—from the home after their client died. 
Such a heavy responsibility, one would think, should require extensive education in mental health disciplines and medicine. Nope. The legislation leaves it up to regulators to decide what experience and training licensed suicide facilitators will require. 
But it’s a good bet that possessing a suicide-friendly ideology will be an important component. For example, the bill specifies that organizations could be licensed—a boon to pro-euthanasia groups, many of which already surreptitiously “counsel” or assist suicides. Not only that, but individuals as young as 16—also the minimum age to receive assistance in committing suicide—would be eligible for licensure. This means that if the bill becomes law, one teenager could be legally authorized to help another teenager commit suicide. 
As the Scots continue to wrestle with legalizing assisted suicide, experience in Belgium warns of the consequences of accepting killing as an answer to human suffering. Belgian law allows broad access to euthanasia and assisted suicide when “the patient is in a medically futile condition of constant unbearable physical or mental suffering” caused by an illness or injury, and which cannot be alleviated. That’s a very liberal license. But since 2002, some Belgian doctors have implemented the law as if it permitted death on demand. Consider these well-documented examples:
  • the euthanasia of a transsexual repelled by the results of a sex change operation;  
  • the euthanasia of a depressed anorexia patient who wanted to die after being sexually exploited by her psychiatrist;  
  • the joint euthanasia of deaf twins, who asked to be killed together when both began losing their eyesight;  
  • the joint euthanasia of elderly couples who preferred immediate death to eventual widowhood.  
Belgian doctors also combine voluntary euthanasia with organ harvesting. One medical journal published an article describing the harvesting of a lung from a mentally ill patient who was identified as a self-harmer. Joint euthanasia/organ harvests have become so normalized that Belgian doctors created a Power Point presentation urging colleagues to be on the lookout for suicidal patients with neuro-muscular diseases (such as MS) as potential donors, because unlike cancer patients, they have “high quality organs.” 
And now, the Belgian parliament seems likely to legalize child euthanasia: By an overwhelming 50-17, the senate just passed a bill allowing doctors to kill sick children. The justification? It’s happening anyway. “We all know it,” Dominique Biarent, head of intensive care at Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital in Brussels told Belga news agency. “Doctors need a framework.”
Let me translate: Belgium’s euthanasia guidelines are a mere veneer that can be violated without consequence. When violations finally come to public light, lawmakers simply amend the law to reflect actual practice.
That has certainly been the pattern for the last 40 years in the Netherlands, where the categories of killable people have expanded like a sinkhole. Now, psychiatrists want to get in on the killing. A 2012 article in a Dutch journal of psychiatry concluded that not only is euthanasia for mental illness legal in the Netherlands (absolutely true), but making euthanasia—the “midwife of death”—more available to those with mental illnesses would constitute “an emancipation of the psychiatric patient and psychiatry itself.”
On this side of the pond, Quebec is close to legalizing euthanasia. All major political parties in the provincial parliament support the plan, which would—unlike any other proposal I have seen—forbid assisted suicide and require doctors to kill qualified patients as medical treatment. It would accomplish this bit of prestidigitation by renaming euthanasia as “medical aid in dying” and mandating that doctors “administer such aid personally” when asked by a legally qualified patient. 
As under most legal schemes outside the United States, eligibility would not be limited to the terminally ill. If of “full age” and “capable of giving consent,” the suicidal patient would be able to have him or herself killed if suffering from “an incurable serious illness” in an “advanced state of irreversible decline” that causes “unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.” As in the Scottish proposal and the Belgian and Dutch laws, the definition is broad enough to drive a hearse through.
What’s more, all Quebec doctors would be legally required to euthanize qualified patients—or, if morally opposed, to refer patients to others willing to kill them. In other words, complicity in euthanasia may soon become a condition of practicing medicine in Quebec—Hippocratic Oath be damned.
The United States too has seen a lurch in assisted suicide policy. Americans still have qualms about the issue; voters in Massachusetts narrowly rejected a legalization referendum last year. Thus, as a political expedient, proposals here usually limit doctor-prescribed death to the terminally ill and include bureaucratic guidelines that supposedly will protect against abuse.
True to form, Vermont has a new assisted-suicide law that contained such provisions when lawmakers passed it in May. But the “safeguards” will sunset in 2016. After that, no state oversight of any kind is mandated. Instead, suicide-assisting doctors will make their own rules so long as the patient is “capable and does not have impaired judgment.” The doctor informs the suicidal patient of “feasible end-of-life services” and discloses the “risks” of taking a lethal overdose. 
To recap: Starting in 2016, doctors in Vermont will assist patient suicides under what amounts to an honor system, no questions asked. What could go wrong? 
Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and consults for the Patients Rights Council and the Center for Bioethics and Culture. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not Dead Yet Hires John Kelly as Regional Director for New England States


John Kelly
Not Dead Yet has hired John Kelly as regional director for advocacy in the New England states. Kelly is also director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, a disability rights group which played a pivotal role in defeating an assisted suicide ballot referendum in Massachusetts in 2012.

John Kelly was highly visible as an advocate against the ballot initiative known as “Question 2”. Confounding assisted suicide proponents who often tried to depict assisted suicide opponents as conservative, Kelly simultaneously supported Question 3 to legalize medical marijuana while opposing Question 2. The Second Thoughts home page even featured a bumper sticker with the “No on 2/Yes on 3” message and related graphics.

Kelly appeared in several debates against Dr. Marcia Angell, a leading advocate for assisted suicide, including a broadcast interview of the two of them on National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered". His insights into life with quadriplegia were also sought out by CNN International in connection with coverage of the high-profile assisted suicide case involving Tony Nicklinson in the UK.

Kelly has also written a number of published articles and opinion pieces on assisted suicide.

Diane Coleman
Since the defeat of the Massachusetts assisted suicide initiative in November 2012, Kelly has worked with disability advocates to oppose assisted suicide bills in both Connecticut and Vermont, testifying on behalf of both Not Dead Yet and Second Thoughts.
“John brings long term experience on key issues Not Dead Yet addresses as well as top-notch communication skills to his new position,” said Diane Coleman, Not Dead Yet president and CEO. “We’re very fortunate to be able to expand his role in our efforts.”
John Kelly will be speaking at the Euthanasia Symposium 2013 on November 8 - 9, 2013 in Toronto Ontario. John has become one of the leading voices in America opposing the legalization of assisted suicide.

Links to similar articles:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vermont Group working to repeal Assisted Suicide Act.

By Alex Schadenberg

The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare have launched a TV advertising campaign in a first step to repealing the Vermont Assisted Suicide Act that was signed into law on May 20. True Dignity Vermont is also supporting the campaign.

Link to the TV Ad.

An article in the Burlington Free Press quotes Edward Mahoney, the President of the Vermont Alliance as stating:
“Our goal is to raise awareness about the legislation,” “Our Legislature just passed a bad law. Repeal this bad law.”
The Vermont Assisted Suicide bill (S-77) failed to pass in the Senate. Governor Peter Shumlin, a long-time assisted suicide promoter and who had received campaign donations from the assisted suicide lobby, had promised to legalize assisted suicide, and therefore pushed a second-time to get S-77 through the Senate.

A last minute compromise gained Shumlin the needed votes leading to S-77 passing by a vote of 17 to 15 in the Senate.

Edward Mahoney
The Burlington Free Press article stated:
Mahoney calls the law “legislative malpractice” and notes numerous flaws, including that while the law requires a patient to be able to self-administer the medication when the prescription is written, there is nothing to ensure the patient is still able to do so when he or she takes it.
Washington State attorney, Margaret Dore called Vermont Bill S-77 irresponsible while I referred to S-77 as the worst assisted suicide bill ever.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition encourages the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare to continue their campaign to Repeal the Bill. The legalization of assisted suicide threatens the lives of people at the most vulnerable time of their life. S-77 is the worst form of assisted suicide legislation in America.

Important links.
Link to the TV Ad
- Vermont Assisted Suicide Law - Legislative Malpractice.
- True Dignity Vermont establishes watchdog helpline.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The spread of physician-assisted suicide.

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey, Public Discourse - July 18, 2013.

On May 20, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed “The Patient Choice and Control at the End of Life Act,” legalizing physician-assisted suicide (PAS) throughout the state. This event matters not only because this law governs life and death, but also because Vermont is the first state to sanction PAS through the legislative process, via the votes of elected representatives. The law also represents the spread of PAS from the West Coast to the opposite side of the United States.

While neither of these characteristics may alarm right-to-life and disability rights advocates (who perhaps are concerned solely for the people of Vermont), policy scholars know that both of these attributes greatly enhance PAS proponents’ ability to spread the scourge of voluntary euthanasia throughout New England and eventually nationwide.

Prior to Vermont’s action, over 120 PAS bills had been filed in the states, but overwhelming expert testimony against PAS always succeeded in persuading legislators across party lines of its danger to citizens and society. This is what led voluntary euthanasia lobbyists to abandon legislative efforts (which demand information that is damning to their agenda) and instead place their hope in the ignorance of the average voter, who unlike a lawmaker wouldn’t have the benefit of scientific facts and could therefore be swayed by emotional appeals and clever semantics. Polls show that a support for PAS varies by 20 percent based on how the question is phrased, although the outcome remains the same.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Physician-assisted Suicide Was More Important to Vermont Legislators Than the Wrongful and Tragic Loss of Innocent Human Life

Bob Orleck, sent the following article in italics below, to True Dignity Vermont. Orleck was in the Senate and House for every stage of the assisted suicide debate in Vermont and he knows exactly what happened.  As a pharmacist with detailed knowledge of how the suicide drugs work, Bob is appalled that this law was passed.

By Bob Orleck, Pharmacist
A very accurate analysis of what Act 39 (physician assisted suicide) will mean in real life practice to real hurting people  was written by Edward J. Mahoney, Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care, and published in the 5 July edition of the Burlington Free Press
Bob Orleck
While Mr. Mahoney has pointed to many legislative errors, there will be more discovered as application of this law meets the multitude of fact situations and abuses that will present. What was clear from the beginning, even with consideration of the Oregon style bill before it morphed into what we got, was that Vermont’s legislature for political reasons refused to deliberate on the many dangerous facets of this legislation. They focused solely on appealing to special interests both in and out of our State of Vermont and ignored the good of the people. Their work is an embarrassment and needs to be fixed. To have a special session though, with the same cast of characters who walk in lock step, will probably prove fruitless. They were blind to the truth then and they will most likely chose to stay in the dark in the future. A special session though, driven by a realization that serious errors were made, might lead to a more sufficient vetting of the issues and a change in course for our lawmakers, one that realizes they went down the wrong path of being controlled by ignorance, politics and emotion instead of by sound medical  judgment, scientific facts and the best interests of Vermonters.
Our Vermont legislators in their last minute rush to salvage what appeared to be certain rejection of the Oregon styled Physician Assisted Suicide bill, made a deal with an ego driven lawmaker to get some manner of death legislation. In so doing they threw caution to the wind, carelessly drafted language, then failed to do critical examination of their work and instead cranked up the emotion level and crammed it though with pressure from Governor Shumlin and by the recognized hard work of Speaker Shap Smith, who maneuvered and controlled the House debate to gain passage of the bill in his chamber. This may well be the undoing of at least both of these politicians, who did not do their homework on this last minute compromise and who should pay the price by being turned out of office in the future for violating the trust they were given by the people not to do harm. In that they failed miserably and should be held accountable by the voters.
It was so hard to watch the actions of the legislature move toward the passage of physician assisted suicide when there was so much valid and scientific evidence available and presented that was ignored. I could not understand this until True Dignity Vermont made the point that cleared up the whole matter for me. Casualties were acceptable! As simple as that! That is why the legislators ignored the doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, nurses and ethicists. They knew from the beginning exactly what they were doing and what the cost of doing it would be, and there was no way they were going to allow facts to stand in the way.
Throughout the debate on this bad law, Act 39, it was amazing how easily the majority of Vermont lawmakers accepted the fiction that physicians can accurately predict the amount of life left in a person. Medicare and hospice require that a patient, to be eligible for coverage, must have a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live if their condition is allowed to run its natural course. It was never intended that this physician’s prognosis be the basis for making a person eligible for a procedure to make that death happen before the six months. So many times these predictions are wrong and the patient lives much longer. In fact under the care provided by hospice their life can and is often prolonged beyond what it would otherwise have been before the six month prediction. This was not meant to be a pronouncement to trigger a life ending procedure but one to provide care to a person who is dying and needs support. But the death proponents had to have a test so they latched on to these often used but scientifically lacking guesses that physicians are called upon to make. For widespread acceptability of physician assisted suicide the proponents had to limit the application to those patients who appeared to be facing imminent death. Without such, they would have failed. But what is troubling to my thinking is that I believe they knew quite well that the test was flawed but were willing to accept that because they had to win at any cost.
I am a pharmacist, and so many times I tried to point out to the lawmakers that there were dangers in the dosing procedure that was to be used to bring about the death and that those dangers would result in botched attempts, horrific side effects and even exacerbation of already painful situations for a large percentage of dying patients. In some cases the patient would not even die from the procedure but would surely suffer greatly. I asked our legislators to address the objective facts supporting my opinion but could not get them to even respond other than to say they thought the bill had safeguards and was a good bill. They had to avoid this evidence just as they accepted the fictional certainty of a six month physician prognosis in order to get their death bill passed. They had to realize there would be casualties along the way but that would be acceptable in order to accomplish their death on demand objective. They wanted this death law and considered the price affordable. For these folks, physician assisted suicide was more important to them than the wrongful and tragic loss of an innocent human life. But now it appears that in their zeal to get the job done, they carelessly and negligently created a monster that will keep raising its ugly head and doing more damage than even they had expected and that might just cost them their position of power.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vermont Assisted Suicide Law - Legislative Malpractice

The following article was written by Edward J Mahoney and published on July 5, 2013 in the Burlington Free Press under the title: My Turn: Legislative Malpractice.
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Edward Mahoney
Edward J. Mahoney, Burlington Free Press - July 5, 2013. President of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare.
Vermont legislators should be mortified that they have enacted a law to allow and promote “aid-in-dying” with virtually no protections for vulnerable patients. One might contend that they have committed legislative malpractice by cutting-and-pasting together a law that has great potential to be injurious to one group of people and violates the rights of conscience of another group — clear violations of their legislative oath.
S.77 (now Act 39), “An Act Relating to Patient Choices and Control at the End of Life,” raises serious problems for hospitals and other health care facilities as well as physicians and health care professionals. A close reading of the statute reveals that Act 39:
Requires that the patient requesting hastened death be “capable” at the time of the request; however it allows someone other than the patient to interpret a patient’s request if the patient is unable to be understood by the physician.
Does not require that the patient be “capable” at the time of the lethal ingestion.
Requires that the patient request a lethal drug for self-administration, however it does not require that the patient actually self-administer the drug.
Requires that physicians inform all terminally ill patients about all available treatment options (including a drug to hasten death) even if the patient does not ask about it.
States that physicians are legally obligated to answer any specific questions about treatment options without withholding any requested information. There is no exemption for a physician who believes the request is premature, clinically inappropriate, or unethical.
The prescribing physician may not contact the patient’s primary physician unless the patient consents, possibly obscuring pertinent history such as prior incapacity, depression, suicidal statements or attempts.
Provides legal immunity for physicians, but not for nurses, pharmacists or other involved professionals.
Does not establish any oversight at all. The physician is only required to report to the Department of Health that he or she has written a lethal prescription (no patient name required) and has followed the procedure set forth in Act 39. The pharmacist is not required to report filling the prescription. There is no prescription tracking. No data is collected. No annual reports. The state and the public will have no idea how often this practice is occurring.
The Department of Health is required to adopt rules about the safe disposal of unused lethal prescriptions, but there is no way for them (or anyone) to know who has these lethal doses in their possession.
In addition — unbelievably — the legislature has declared an automatic repeal of all procedural steps as of July 1, 2016. After that date, hastening a patient’s death will be as simple as treating bronchitis.
Act 39 should be a national embarrassment to Compassion and Choices, the out-of-state organization that lobbied so hard to convince our legislature that legalization of “aid-in-dying” would be good for Vermonters.
One has to wonder how carefully Gov. Shumlin read this bill with such glaring errors and omissions before he signed it.
Act 39 is so egregious we cannot delay until the 2014 legislature to try to “fix” it. The Legislature should be called into special session to re-address this dereliction of their sworn duty.
Edward J. Mahoney of Essex Junction is president of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pushing elder suicide

The following article is written by Wesley Smith and published on his blog under the title: Pushing Elder Suicide in Slate. Elder abuse prevention day is June 15. The promotion of elder suicide is an ultimate form of elder abuse.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith - June 7, 2013

As we are in the midst of an elder-suicide crisis, we see elder suicide promoted within the assisted suicide movement and its camp followers in the media.

Now, continuing the recent pattern, the 2002 joint elder suicides of Admiral Chester Nimitz, Jr. and his wife Joan has been extolled in Slate. Euthanasia activist, Dr. Lewis. M. Cohen recounts how the Nimitzs’ killed themselves together. Members of the Hemlock Society, neither were terminally ill but experiencing the usual circumstances of octogenarians. According to Cohen, these suicides were, “Deaths With Dignity.” From the piece:
Nurses were employed at their home to attend to Joan Nimitz’s worsening health problems, but the couple did not want to squander all of their money on such care. They were both appalled at the vast sums spent at the end of life to sustain people who were frail and sick and not likely to get better. They could clearly envision–and they rejected–the idea of spending their remaining years in a nursing facility. The admiral particularly worried his heart condition might suddenly worsen and his wife would be unable to commit suicide by herself. Joan Nimitz confided to the children that she, too, feared that without her husband’s help, she would not be in a position to ingest the barbiturate pills they had been stockpiling. The admiral told his daughter, “That’s the one last thing I have to do for your mother.”
Lewis M. Cohen
It is appalling that such attitudes should be extolled rather than mourned. Anyone who loves and/or cares for elderly parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, cousins, or others should understand that their loved ones are imperiled by such advocacy as explicitly promotes elder suicide as empowering and somehow the most “dignified”–at a time when elderly people worry about becoming burdens–which is our fault, not theirs. 

But this is where assisted suicide advocacy aims, with the terminal illness limitation being just a political ploy to get people to accept the principle that killing is an acceptable answer to the problems of suffering. As the Admiral’s daughter–fully supportive of her parents’ suicides–admits: 
Van Dorn appreciates that the [Vermont] law would not have directly helped her parents, as neither had a “terminal” disease. She understands that a civil rights movement, such as death with dignity, takes politically expedient and incremental steps. She anticipates that in the future the infirmities and suffering of advanced age may also qualify people to request this option (as is presently true in Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands). Meanwhile, one more American state will allow its citizens further control at the end of life. And Van Dorn is looking forward to the day “when kids and their parents will regularly sit around the dining room table and talk about end-of-life issues the way you talk about college planning. Because, after all it is just another kind of planning.”
In other words, planning suicides over coffee.

So, where is the Suicide Prevention Community? Silent! Perhaps afraid of being controversial–which never stops the pro-suicide crowd–they gently discuss suicide prevention, often in the narrowest of terms, and certainly rarely (if ever) publicly opposing assisted suicide. Indeed, usually the topic isn’t mentioned. Meanwhile, suicide promotion is growing increasingly brazen–which substantially explains why each year invisible Suicide Prevention Day comes and goes, making nary a ripple.