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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Assisted suicide: Court overlooked elder abuse

Bradley Williams letter published in the Missoulian:

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_7a0f4602-d0e4-11e0-bb9d-001cc4c002e0.html 
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2011 1:39 pm |

John Board’s (August 24) letter accurately quotes my letter (August 18): “The Montana Supreme Court’s assisted suicide decision ... didn’t even ‘legalize’ assisted suicide.” This quote is from a legal analysis of the Baxter decision by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman. They also state: “The Court merely allowed a possible consent defense if persons continue to be charged with murder for assisted suicide ... After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved.”

During the recent legislative session, Sen. Anders Blewett, another attorney, made statements on the record demonstrating his understanding that it was not legally safe for doctors to assist a patient’s suicide. For example, he said: “under the current law ... there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”

Board’s letter also quotes this statement from Baxter: “In conclusion, we find nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy.” When making this statement, Baxter overlooked our public policies against elder abuse. See, e.g., Sen. Greg Hinkle’s report to the legislature with attorney Margaret Dore, which states: “The Court ... overlooked criminal behavior by family members and others who benefit from a patient’s death, for example, due to an inheritance.” (Senate Hearing Record, SB 116.) For more information, see Margaret Dore, “Physician-Assisted Suicide: Not Legal in Montana; A Recipe for Elder Abuse,” July 15, 2011, www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/assisted-suicide-is-not-legal-in.html  

If anyone would like to help keep assisted suicide out of Montana, please contact me. Donations are also appreciated. Thank you!

Bradley D. Williams,Coordinator,
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide
& For Living with Dignity,
Hamilton

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aid in Dying: Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana

Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:45 am

Thank you for your article about Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and For Living with Dignity and our information booth at the Western Montana Fair. ("Opponents have their say at information booth," Aug. 10). I enjoyed being interviewed by the student journalist, who was very professional.

The article states that physician-assisted suicide, which the article terms "aid in dying," was ruled legal by the Montana Supreme Court. That would be the Baxter decision, which did not legalize assisted suicide. Your readers may be interested in this analysis of Baxter by attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman, at montanansagainstassistedsuicide.blogspot.com/p/baxter-case-analysis.html. They state: "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."

A bill that would have legalized assisted suicide, Senate Bill 167, was defeated in the last legislative session. During the hearing on that bill, the sponsor, Sen. Anders Blewett, made statements conceding that assisted suicide was not legal then, and with the failure of his bill, it's not legal now. For example, he said: "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: maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf.

I invite all of your readers to look at our website, www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org. If anyone would like to help keep assisted suicide out of Montana, please contact me. Donations are also appreciated. Thank you.

Bradley D. Williams, coordinator, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity, Hamilton

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Opponents have their say at information booth



The on line version of the article below has a nice photo of Bradley Williams.  His letter to the editor, submitted today, corrects the assertion that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.

http://missoulian.com/article_500a38da-c38d-11e0-9253-001cc4c002e0.html
By MARIELLE GALLAGHER for the Missoulian | Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2:11 pm

The Commercial Building at the Western Montana Fair has a new booth: Montanans Against Assisted Suicide.

According to its website, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and For Living With Dignity "welcome(s) everyone opposed to assisted suicide, regardless of your views on other issues."

In 2009, physician aid in dying was ruled legal by the Montana Supreme Court. The group's goal at the fair is making assisted suicide illegal in Montana. Regardless of one's opinion on the subject, the attention the booth has already begun to receive at the fair is undeniable.

Bradley Williams currently coordinates the effort. This includes tasks as large as a trip to a legislative session to discuss his cause, which he describes as being "full of representatives who were receptive, gracious, and sincere," and as small as manning the organization's booth at the fair, where he offers information on the case against assisted suicide.

This is a huge shift from Williams' involvement three years ago. He first took notice of the issue in 2008, when a state judge declared that dying with dignity was a constitutional right and physicians could prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill, mentally competent patients.

"I thought a citizen's duty was to pay taxes, vote, attend jury duty," said Williams. "But that was the catalyst that made me realize it was also important to be involved in public discourse."

Physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in Oregon and Washington as well as Montana.

According to Williams, the definition of someone who is terminally ill - and thus eligible for assisted suicide - is too broad, and the potential for elder abuse too great, for aid in dying to be legal.

One of the arguments used by proponents of the cause is that allowing someone to suffer unnecessarily is inhumane. Williams counters that "the science of pain control is developing as quickly as computer technology."

Tuesday afternoon, the first day of the fair, a woman approached the booth and began looking through a list of talking points lying on the table. Several more people paused to look over the information.
Marielle Gallagher is a Midway Dispatch reporter for the Missoulian and a Hellgate High School junior. She can be reached at mariellegallagher26@gmail.com.