Monday, November 26, 2012

Hawaii Medical Association Rejects Assisted Suicide

Serving Hawaii since 1856, the Hawaii Medical Association (HMA) is a voluntary, professional membership organization for physicians, resident physicians, and medical students in the state of Hawaii. HMA is dedicated to serving physicians, their patients, and the community through representation, advocacy, and public service. HMA is part of the American Medical Association (AMA) and is the parent organization for Hawaii's five component medical societies that operate independently, but in a network with the HMA in all four counties in the State of Hawaii. In the last several decades, medical technology has made tremendous advances in saving and extending lives. As a result, life expectancy has increased dramatically.

The Hawaii Medical Association, along with the American Medical Association, oppose any bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide or death. We believe physician-assisted suicide to be unethical and fundamentally inconsistent with the pledge all physicians take to devote themselves to healing and life.

Christopher D. Flanders, D.O.
Executive Director
Hawaii Medical Association

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Teen Wakes as Doctors Prepare to Harvest Her Organs

Alex Schadenberg, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

There have been several reports in the past few years about people who are being prepared for organ donation, who wake up or shows "signs of life." These stories create a distrust in society concerning the practice of organ donation and it leads to fewer people willing to be organ donors. The abuse of organ donation related to the wish to procure more organs for an endless demand for organ donation may be leading to sloppy evaluations by some physicians, while other physicians consider people who appear to be nearing death as suitable organ donors because they "will die anyway." Read more

Euthanasia by any other name

Paul Russell, MercatorNet.com

Euthanasia by any other name is still the deliberate taking of a human life and politicians are right to reject it. Read more

A matter of trust

Martin Cullen, MercatorNet.com

If we are seriously debating euthanasia, is it any wonder that so many patients are suspicious of hospital doctors? Read more

Friday, November 23, 2012

Words to live by

“The role of taker of life must never be assigned to a physician; in any case, the law must never permit him to perform it, for this would jeopardize and perhaps destroy the physician’s role in society. A patient must never have to suspect that his physician might become his executioner."
 ~Hans Jonas, ethicist

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Elder Abuse: our most appalling crime

by Paul Russell | Careful! A MercatorNet focus blog on euthanasia



"Older people tend to be more vulnerable because of their age. They feel more pressures, especially from a family member. They often feel guilt and sense of obligation which is then played on,'' she said. "They are more prone to social isolation [and] often their limited social contact might be with someone who is putting them under pressure.'' ~Sue Leitch, Council on Aging Tasmania Full story

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Study: Assisted Suicide Assisters Distressed

http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/wrsnews/study-assisted-suicide-helpers-distressed.shtml?32735

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One in four people who accompany someone to commit assisted suicide suffer massive psychological distress, according to a new study by the University of Zurich.

Researchers at the university spoke to 85 people who went with a family member or close friend to an EXIT euthanasia clinic.

A quarter suffered from post traumatic stress disorder while 16 percent had depression. Five percent were found to have long-term grief.

The interviews were carried out one to two years after the assisted death of loved ones.

The results state that problems can surface 14 to 24 months later and that a death not from natural causes was a heavy burden for those who supported the deceased.

Although the research didn’t include a direct comparison with the effects of a natural death on a loved one, the study was compared to others.

This showed the researchers that post traumatic stress disorder was more common for people close to an assisted suicide case rather than a natural death.

The results have been published in the October issue of the journal European Psychiatry.


To view original article, go here:  http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/family-members-traumatized-eur-psych-2012.pdf

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Montana State Senator Corrects New England Journal of Medicine

Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

Dear Editor:

I am a Montana State Senator.  I disagree with your article, "Redefining Physicians' Role in Assisted Dying," claiming that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.  At the very least, Montana law is unclear.

Last year, Senate Bill 167, which would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana, failed.  This leaves assisted suicide governed by a Montana Supreme Court case, Baxter v. Montana.  An analysis by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman describes Baxter as follows:


"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."[1]

Since then, competing articles have appeared in the official Montana State Bar publication disputing whether Baxter legalized assisted suicide.[2]  The editor's headline states: "Court ruling still leaves the issue open to argument." [3]

Correct reporting would be that assisted suicide is not legal in Montana and/or hotly disputed.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Senator Greg Hinkle
Thompson Falls, MT 


* * *

[1] Greg Jackson, Esq., and Matt Bowman, Esq., "Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability," Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity, April 2010, available at
http://montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Analysis-of-Baxter.pdf                                                
[2] Senator Anders Blewett (pro article), Senator Jim Shockley and Margaret Dore (con article), "The aid-in-dying debate: Can a physician legally help a patient die in Montana?  Court ruling still leaves the issue open to argument," The Montana Lawyer, November 2011, available at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/montana-lawyer-pro-con-articles-nov-2011.pdf[3]  Id.

Friday, August 31, 2012

New England Journal of Medicine Article Misleading


Dear Editor:

I am a lawyer in Washington State, one of two states where assisted-suicide is legal.  The other state is Oregon, which has a similar law.  Lisa Lehmann's article, "Redefining Physicians' Role in Assisted Dying," is misleading regarding how these laws work.

First, the Oregon and Washington laws are not limited to people in their "final months" of life.[1,2]  Consider for example, Jeanette Hall, who in 2000 was persuaded by her doctor to be treated rather than use Oregon's law.  She is alive today, twelve years later.[3]

Second, these laws are not "safe" for patients.[4][5]  For example, neither law requires a witness at the death.  Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for the patient's heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent.  Even if he struggled, who would know?  

Third, the fact that persons using Oregon's law are "more financially secure" than the general population is consistent with elder financial abuse, not patient safety.  Do not be deceived. 

* * *

[1]  Margaret K. Dore, "Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice," The Advocate, official publication of the Idaho State Bar, Vol. 52, No. 9, pages 18-20, September 2010, available at http://www.margaretdore.com/pdf/Not_Legal_in_Idaho.pdf.
[2]  Kenneth Stevens, MD, Letter to the Editor, "Oregon mistake costs lives," The Advocate, official publication of the Idaho State Bar, Vol. 52, No. 9, pages 16-17, September 2010, available athttp://www.margaretdore.com/info/September_Letters.pdf 
[3]  Ms. Hall corresponded with me on July 13, 2012.
[4]  See article at note 1.  See also Margaret Dore, "Death with Dignity": A Recipe for Elder Abuse and Homicide (Albeit Not by Name)," at 11 Marquette Elder's Advisor 387 (Spring 2010), original and updated version available at http://www.choiceillusion.org/p/the-oregon-washington-assisted-suicide.html 
[5]  Blum, B. and Eth, S.  "Forensic Issues: Geriatric Psychiatry." InKaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, Seventh Edition, B. Sadock and V. Sadock editors.  Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, pp. 3150-3158, 2000. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Suicide Predator Conviction Upheld

Appeals Court upholds nurse's aiding suicide conviction

by Amy Forliti, Associated Press 


July 17, 2012

[To for more information, charging document click here]
[To link to Nadia's Light, click here]
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/07/17/news/melchert-dinkel-aiding-suicide-conviction/

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the convictions of a former nurse who scanned online chat rooms for suicidal people then, feigning compassion, gave a British man and a young woman in Canada instructions on how to kill themselves. 


William Melchert-Dinkel, 49, of Faribault, acknowledged that what he did was morally wrong but argued he had merely exercised his right to free speech and that the Minnesota law used to convict him in 2011 of aiding suicide was unconstitutional. 

The appeals court disagreed, saying the First Amendment does not bar the state from prosecuting someone for "instructing (suicidal people on) how to kill themselves and coaxing them to do so." 


Melchert-Dinkel's attorney, Terry Watkins, was not immediately available for comment.

Court documents show Melchert-Dinkel searched online for depressed people then, posing as a female nurse, offered step-by-step instructions on how they could kill themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted last year of two counts of aiding suicide in the deaths of 32-year-old Mark Drybrough, of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005; and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008.

He was sentenced to more than six years in prison but the terms of his parole meant he would only be imprisoned for about a year. His sentence was postponed pending his appeal, but at the time of sentencing, he was told that if his convictions were upheld, he'd have seven days to report to jail.

In arguing to overturn the conviction, Watkins said his client didn't talk anyone into suicide but instead offered emotional support to two people who had already decided to take their lives.

Assistant Rice County Attorney Benjamin Bejar had argued that Melchert-Dinkel wasn't advocating suicide in general, but had a targeted plan to lure people to kill themselves. Prosecutors have said he convinced his victims to do something they might not have done without him.

Bejar said Tuesday that prosecutors were pleased with the decision.

In a statement read at his sentencing last year, Melchert-Dinkel said he was sorry for his role in the suicides and that he realized he had rejected a unique opportunity to talk his victims out of killing themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel's nursing license was revoked in 2009

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Washington State Annual Report: No Information about Consent


Margaret Dore

Washington assisted suicide act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.[1]  During the election, proponents claimed that its passage would ensure individuals control over their deaths.  A glossy brochure declared, "Only the patient — and no one else — may administer the [lethal dose]."[2]  The Act, however, does not say this anywhere.

Today, the Washington State Department of Health issued its annual report about Washington's act.[3]  That report, similarly, does not demonstrate that individuals are in control. The report provides no information as to whether the people who died under the act consented and/or acted voluntarily at the time of death.  The report instead talks about "ingestion" of the lethal dose.  A drug can be "ingested" while a person is asleep, sedated and/or not aware of his or her surroundings.

For more information about Washington's act, See Margaret Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," Bar Bulletin, May 2009.[4]   

* * *
[1]  Washington's act was passed by in November 2008 as Initiative 1000 and has now been codified as RCW chapter 70.245.
[2]   I-1000 color pamphlet, "Paid for by Yes! on 1000."
[3]  See News Release here and report here.
[4]  Further information can be viewed here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Not Dead Yet: A Deeper Look at Elderly Homicide-Suicides


From Not Dead Yet:  "[S]ociety cannot lose sight of the fact that a person's life was taken, often without their consent." 

May 1, 2012

Last September, this blog discussed an article from a Pennsylvania newspaper that took a thoughtful, in-depth look at the tragically growing trend of elderly homicide/suicides.  When that story was written, there had been three such cases in the state since June of that year.

The number is now up to at least 6 in the last year.  Terrie Morgan-Besecker takes another in-depth look at elderly homicide/suicides and interviews a number of people about the larger picture (including me) to get beyond the 'mercy killing' theme that dominates the coverage of these tragedies.

An excerpt that includes a bit from my interview is below.  From TheAbington Journal, here is a sample of 'Loved to Death': 

But researchers who have studied murder-suicides among the elderly say they're troubled by society's tendency to view such deaths as mercy killings.

"One of the concerns is you don't want to make it sound like it's a viable thing to do," said Sonia Salari, a professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah."  If we romanticize it, it makes it sound like it's OK."

Statistics regarding the number of elderly murder-suicides committed each year are difficult to come by, as no agency specifically tracks that category of deaths, Salari said.

In a 2005 study, Salari analyzed 225 intimate partner murder-suicides involving couples where either the victim or perpetrator was at least age 60. She gathered the data from news reports, police reports and obituaries published from 1999 to 2005.

The research showed that in 55 percent of the cases, health issues   involving either the victim or perpetrator were cited as a contributing factor. Approximately 7.5 percent of the victims had some sort of dementia.

Compassion or murder?

Salari said that, while she sympathizes with survivors who view the deaths as an act of compassion, society cannot lose sight of the fact that a person's life was taken, often without their consent.

"Some people don't consider it domestic violence, but we need to see it as that," she said. "You have two deaths. Most of the time the victim is not in on the plan."

Stephen Drake, a spokesman for Not Dead Yet, a nonprofit group that opposes assisted suicide laws, also expressed concern over how murder-suicides among the elderly are viewed.

"These are acts usually of desperation, not compassion," he said. "These are people who are feeling depressed or overwhelmed. It's often a consequence of an emotional crisis."
Please read the rest of the article here.  --Stephen Drake 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dore v Morris: Assisted suicide debate deals with abuse, compassion

http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20120419/KAMLOOPS0101/120419759/-1...

Lawyer cautions against legislating through courts

By Mike Youds, Daily News Staff Reporter
 
Margaret Dore (L) and Wanda Morris (R)
A right to medically assisted suicide may sound compassionate and just, but beware the details when it comes to the act itself, a U.S. lawyer warned Wednesday in a debate at TRU.

Margaret Dore shared some of her experiences with assisted suicide in Washington State, where the practice became legal through a ballot measure four years ago.


 "A lot of people think this is a great idea until they start thinking and reading about how you do it," she told an audience of about 30 people in the Irving K. Barber Centre.

In effect, laws in Washington and Oregon empower people who may choose to abuse the responsibility, Dore said.

"Your heir can be there to help you sign up. Once the legal dose leaves the pharmacy, there is no oversight whatsoever."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hawai'i Teen Sounds Off on Teen-Assisted Suicide Link

Hawaii Free Press
Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

As a teenager, legalizing assisted suicide is concerning to me because it seems to counteract the positive messages teens need to hear. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hawaii ranks number one with the highest prevalence of high school students who have considered suicide. How can we prevent and discourage teen suicides if we pass legislation condoning ending one’s life in certain circumstances? It seems hypocritical to me to tell teenagers to “choose life” and not give up, while permitting other people to end their lives. Read more

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Legal Assisted Suicide Does NOT Reduce Murder Rate

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesDailyNews/tabid/65/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/6439/Letters-to-the-Editor-April-2012.aspx

Dear Editor: 

Chad Blair's Civil Beat article, "A Conversation About Aid in Dying in Hawaii," implies that legalizing physician-assisted suicide would eliminate murder-suicide in the elderly.

In Oregon, where assisted-suicide has been legal since 1997, murder suicide has not been eliminated. Indeed, murder-suicide follows the national pattern. Moreover, according to Donna Cohen, an expert on murder-suicide, the typical 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."


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

Our laws against assisted suicide are in place to protect vulnerable people. To learn more about problems with legalizing assisted suicide, please see www.hawaiiagainstassistedsuicide.org.

For more in depth information, see Dominique Bourget, MD, Pierre Gagne, MD, Laurie Whitehouse, PhD,"Domestic Homicide and Homicide-Suicide: The Older Offender," Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, September 2010; Don Colburn, "Recent murder-suicides follow the national pattern," The Oregonian, November 17, 2009; and “Murder-suicides in Elderly Rise: Husbands commit most murder-suicides –without wives’ consent” at WebMD.

Janet M. Grace
Hawaii Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Assisted Suicide Not Lawful, State says

http://www.staradvertiser.com/s?action=login&f=y&id=137466873

A 103-year-old act does not let doctors kill, the attorney general's office tells proponents


By B.J. Reyes

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2012

An obscure 1909 law intended to ease suffering of Hansen's disease patients does not make physician-assisted suicide legal in Hawaii, according to an opinion by the state attorney general's office.

The opinion, dated Dec. 8, was in response to an inquiry from state Sen. Josh Green, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, who sought clarification of the law amid reports that supporters of physician-assisted suicide were seeking a patient willing to test the statute.
 
An obscure 1909 law intended to ease suffering of Hansen's disease patients does not make physician-assisted suicide legal in Hawaii, according to an opinion by the state attorney general's office.
 
The opinion, dated Dec. 8, was in response to an inquiry from state Sen. Josh Green, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, who sought clarification of the law amid reports that supporters of physician-assisted suicide were seeking a patient willing to test the statute. Login for more...