Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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Welcome to Hawaiians Against Assisted Suicide!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

For Third Time Hawaii Legislature Rejects Assisted Suicide

Today's News & Views
By Dave Andrusko 

Following 4½ hours of powerful testimony, Hawaii's Senate Health Committee turned down a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

After citing numerous examples of loved ones who outlived a doctor's terminal diagnosis or of their own victory over suicidal depression, opponents of a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Hawaii applauded as a Senate committee defeated the measure last night," wrote reporter B.J. Reyes.Sen. Josh Green, the committee chairman, told the audience last night, "After considering the large body of testimony presented to us, I have determined that community sentiment here today has been overwhelmingly opposed to moving this measure forward in its present form."

The Emperor has No Clothes: "VSED"

Assisted suicide proponents have a new campaign promoting starvation and dehydration.  VSED: "Voluntarily" stopping eating and drinking.  Below, Kate Kelly provides a real life example:  "I watched her suffer." 

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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.

I watched her suffer, and I listened to the medical practitioners, to a son who legally decided her fate, and to an eldest daughter who advised him and told me that the old woman, my mother, was "comfortable," except when she was "in distress," at which times the nurses medicated her to make her "comfortable" again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What People Mean When They Say They Want to Die

 (originally published as a Statement for the BBC)
For a print version, click here
by William Toffler, MD
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There has been a profound shift in attitude in my state since the voters of Oregon narrowly embraced assisted suicide 11 years ago.  A shift that, I believe, has been detrimental to our patients, degraded the quality of medical care, and compromised the integrity of my profession. 

Since assisted suicide has become an option, I have had at least a dozen patients discuss this option with me in my practice.  Most of the patients who have broached this issue weren't even terminal. 

One of my first encounters with this kind of request came from a patient with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.  He was in a wheelchair yet lived a very active life. In fact, he was a general contractor and quite productive.  While I was seeing him, I asked him about how it affected his life.  He acknowledged that multiple sclerosis was a major challenge and told me that if he got too much worse, he might want to “just end it.” “ It sounds like you are telling me this because you might ultimately want assistance with your own assisted suicide- if things got a worse,” I said.  He nodded affirmatively, and seemed relieved that I seemed to really understand.

I told him that I could readily understand his fear and his frustration and even his belief that assisted suicide might be a good option for him. At the same time, I told him that should he become sicker or weaker, I would work to give him the best care and support available. I told him that no matter how debilitated he might become, that, at least to me, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable. As such, I would not recommend, nor could I participate in his assisted-suicide.  He simply said, "Thank you." The truth is that we are not islands.  How physicians respond to the patient’s request has a profound effect, not only on a patient's choices, but also on their view of themselves and their inherent worth.

Don't Follow Oregon's Lead


By Charles Bentz, MD, for print version, click here.

I am an internal medicine doctor, practicing in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. I write in support of Margaret Dore’s article, "Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice." I would also like to share a story about one of my patients.
I was caring for a 76 year-old man who came in with a sore on his arm. The sore was ultimately diagnosed as a malignant melanoma, and I referred him to two cancer specialists for evaluation and therapy. I had known this patient and his wife for over a decade. He was an avid hiker, a popular hobby here in Oregon. As he went through his therapy, he became less able to do this activity, becoming depressed, which was documented in his chart.

During this time, my patient expressed a wish for doctor-assisted suicide to one of the cancer specialists. Rather than taking the time and effort to address the question of depression, or ask me to talk with him as his primary care physician and as someone who knew him, the specialist called me and asked me to be the “second opinion” for his suicide. She told me that barbiturate overdoses “work very well” for patients like this, and that she had done this many times before.

I told her that assisted-suicide was not appropriate for this patient and that I did NOT concur. I was very concerned about my patient’s mental state, and I told her that addressing his underlying issues would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription. Unfortunately, my concerns were ignored, and approximately two weeks later my patient was dead from an overdose prescribed by this doctor. His death certificate, filled out by this doctor, listed the cause of death as melanoma.The public record is not accurate. My patient did not die from his cancer, but at the hands of a once-trusted colleague. This experience has affected me, my practice, and my understanding of what it means to be a physician.

"I was afraid to leave my husband alone"

Letter from Oregon resident, Kathryn Judson, Published in the Hawaii Free Press, February 15, 2011.  To view the original letter, click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.   

Dear Editor,

Hello from Oregon.

When my husband was seriously ill several years ago, I collapsed in a half-exhausted heap in a chair once I got him into the doctor's office, relieved that we were going to get badly needed help (or so I thought).

To my surprise and horror, during the exam I overheard the doctor giving my husband a sales pitch for assisted suicide. 'Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her' he said, as a clincher.

Now, if the doctor had wanted to say 'I don't see any way I can help you, knowing what I know, and having the skills I have' that would have been one thing. If he'd wanted to opine that certain treatments weren't worth it as far as he could see, that would be one thing. But he was tempting my husband to commit suicide. And that is something different.

I was indignant that the doctor was not only trying to decide what was best for David, but also what was supposedly best for me (without even consulting me, no less).

We got a different doctor, and David lived another five years or so. But after that nightmare in the first doctor's office, and encounters with a 'death with dignity' inclined nurse, I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses, for fear they'd morph from care providers to enemies, with no one around to stop them.

It's not a good thing, wondering who you can trust in a hospital or clinic. I hope you are spared this in Hawaii.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Judson, Oregon

"If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead"

I'm so glad doctor didn't assist me with thoughts of suicidehttp://www.tcpalm.com/news/2010/oct/19/letter-im-so-glad-doctor-didnt... 

Letter, Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I disagree with Marshall Frank's column, "Florida ready for its own Death with Dignity Act, to give terminally ill patients a choice." Here in Oregon we have such a law. In other words, assisted suicide is legal. Our law was enacted via a ballot initiative that I voted for.

In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had six months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn't know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, but he didn't really answer me. I did not want to suffer. I wanted to die and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am so happy to be alive!
It is now nearly 10 years later. If my doctor had believed in
assisted suicide, I would be dead. I thank him and all my doctors for helping me choose "life with dignity." Assisted suicide should not be legal. Don't make Oregon's mistake.


Jeanette Hall
King City, Ore.