Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Senator Shockley: Position Changed with Evidence

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/position-changed-with-evidence/article%20406ec244-237a-5cca-b240-1f2b407b49f3.html

October 24, 2014 6:30 am

I am a former legislator and a lawyer who at one time favored permitting physician-assisted suicide, but changed my position after looking at the evidence.

William Clarke is wrong about the legality of assisted suicide, and his definition of suicide, as described in his letter of Oct. 15. Physician-assisted suicide is against the law in Montana and killing oneself is suicide regardless of your health.

The present law is the Baxter case, which says that under certain circumstances a physician who assisted someone to kill herself/himself has a defense to a charge of homicide. It is a defense if the doctor is charged with homicide, that does not make it legal. If the doctor is charged with homicide and can convince a jury of certain facts, he will not be convicted. If he fails to do so, he is convicted of a felony. Of course, there is the civil liability of the doctor, which is not addressed at all by Clarke.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide will lead to elder abuse and other problems as described by Bradley Williams in his recent letter (Sept. 25). The American Medical Association is against physician-assisted suicide for the same reason I am. It will lead to abuse of the elderly and others who are infirm, mentally or physically, but not really “terminally ill.” As an example, the much-touted Oregon law allows ordinary diabetes to be considered a terminally ill disease

Jim Shockley,

Victor

Friday, October 24, 2014

MAAS' Demand Letter to People Magazine: "The risk of suicide contagion is real. The potential victims include children."

Dear Editor:

People Magazine’s coverage of Brittany Maynard breaks all recommended media guidelines for responsible reporting of suicide.  The risk of suicide contagion is real.  The potential victims include children.    

It is well known that media reporting of suicide can encourage other suicides, sometimes called "copycat suicides," or more generally, a "suicide contagion."  A famous example is Marilyn Monroe, whose suicide death led to a suicide spike.

This encouragement phenomenon can also occur when the inspiring death is not a suicide.  An example is the televised hanging of Saddam Hussein, which led to suicide deaths of children worldwide.  An NBC News article begins:      
The boys' deaths - scattered in the United States, in Yemen, in Turkey and elsewhere in seemingly isolated horror - had one thing in common:  They hanged themselves after watching televised images of Saddam Hussein's execution.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/16624940/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/copycat-hangings-follow-saddam-execution/#.VDr5AfldWS

Your coverage of Brittany Maynard is, of course, exponentially more intense and of broader range than that of Marilyn Monroe or Saddam Hussein.

As a major media organization, you are expected to be familiar with recommended guidelines for the responsible reporting of suicide.  Important points include that the risk of additional suicides increases "when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage."  See http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/recommendations-for-reporting-on-suicide.shtml

Your coverage of Brittany Maynard's upcoming death violates all of these guidelines.  We are told of the planned method, when and where it will take place and who will be there.  There is repeated extensive coverage in multiple media.  Your website says that the story has gone "viral."

Meanwhile, People Magazine, in grocery stores everywhere, with children in line, glorifies Ms. Maynard's upcoming death.  Her photo is on the cover; she's beautiful and now she's one of your celebrities.  In big white letters, there is this headline:  "My Decision to Die."  There are also these words, also in white, simple enough for a child to understand:  "Why Brittany Maynard, 29, plans to end her life in less that three weeks."  

According to your publication, Ms. Maynard is going to kill herself, and if you don't do something to change this suicide promotion trajectory, so will many other people.

Now you can write me back, and say, "Oh, but Ms. Maynard's not suicidal, it's different."
                     
Saddam Hussein wasn't suicidal and it wasn't different. Those boys died.

My client, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, hereby demands the following:
1.  That you immediately cease and desist your suicide promotion activity, which means removing all glorifying content from your website, grocery stores, wherever;
                                                     
2.  That you immediately add suicide prevention content to your publications, including  where to call for help; and
3.  That you in no shape or form promote Ms. Maynard's suicide if and when it occurs.
People Magazine celebrates the heroes among us.  It's time for People Magazine to show its integrity by this time being the hero among us to stop the contagion.

Sincerely,

Margaret Dore,
Attorney for Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS)

Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
www.margaretdore.com
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754 main reception
206 389 1562 direct line

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"This is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?"

Assisted suicide discussion veering into talk of terminating lives on non-terminal people
I am a lawyer in Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal. Our law was passed by a deceptive ballot measure spearheaded by Compassion & Choices. Voters were promised that only the patient would be allowed to administer the lethal dose, which is false. Our law does say that the patient may self-administer the lethal dose, but there is no language saying that administration must be by self-administration. For more information, please go here:  https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm
Once assisted suicide is legal, there is pressure to expand. For example, here in Washington State, we have had “trial balloon” proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing one was a casual discussion in our largest paper suggesting euthanasia for people who didn’t save enough money for their old age. So, if you worked hard all your life, paid your taxes, and your pension plan went broke, this is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?
To view a copy of the newspaper column, please go here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf.
Protect yourselves and your families. Don’t let assisted suicide become legal in Montana.
Margaret Dore, president,
Choice is an Illusion,
Seattle, Washington

Monday, October 6, 2014

Assisters Can Have Their Own Agenda

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_d9ec8917-b025-5aad-97dd-0520559fde00.html

Greed, personal motives can influence 'choice' to commit assisted suicide . . .

A Roundup man was recently charged with “aiding or soliciting suicide” of a 16-year-old girl here in Montana. His apparent motive was to prevent her testimony against him in another matter, i.e., by getting her to kill herself. According to an Associate Press article, he coerced her to actually take steps towards that goal, which fortunately did not result in her death. See  http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/convicted-rapist-charged-with-aiding-or-soliciting-suicide-of-victim/article_65c2f39c-ae01-5104-a279-da45b352ef42.html

Similarly, in Minnesota, a former nurse was recently convicted of assisting a young man to kill himself. Both the nurse and the Roundup man had used webcams to communicate with their victims. The nurse’s reported motive was the “thrill of the chase.” See  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/suicideobsessed-us-nurse-convicted-of-helping-coventry-man-kill-himself-9722534.html.

These stories illustrates a fundamental problem with legalizing assisted suicide. The assisting person can have his or her own agenda to encourage a person to kill themselves. The “choice” will not necessarily be that of the victim/patient.

In my practice, where I have a high percentage of older patients, I have witnessed greed by family members over inheritances, including vicious battles over the death bed. This same motive of greed could lead to a coerced suicide, especially if assisted suicide were legalized in our state.

Let’s keep legal assisted suicide out of Montana.

Annie Bukacek,
Kalispell

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Assisters Can Have Their Own Agenda

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-assisted-suicide-20141005,0,1813199.story

Bradley Williams makes a good point about the problems with legalizing assisted suicide, one of them being that people assisting a suicide may have their own agenda ("The perils of assisted suicide," Oct. 2).

Mr. Williams gives the example of a recent Montana case in which a man is accused of encouraging a teenage girl to kill herself in order to prevent her from testifying against him in a rape trial.

I am a doctor in Oregon, one of the few states in which physician-assisted suicide is legal. In this context, assisters with an agenda include our state's Medicaid program, which uses coverage incentives to steer patients to suicide.

The program will pay for a patient's suicide but will not necessarily pay for the patient's treatment to cure a disease or to extend the patient's life.

In other words, with the legalization of assisted suicide, the "treatment" of suicide is displacing desired treatments to cure or to extend life.

I first became aware of such issues in 1982, shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication.

I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said, "Ken, he wants me to kill myself."

We must protect our health care system from such abuses. Citizens should tell their legislators and other public officials to say no to assisted-suicide.


Kenneth Stevens, Sherwood, Ore.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Baltimore Sun: The perils of assisted suicide

I dispute commentator Alexa Fraser's claim that assisted suicide is legal in Montana. ("Political candidates should debate the right to die," Sept. 28),

I am president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, and we are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board over the status of assisted suicide in our state. MAAS is also seeking to overturn Montana's Baxter case, which gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a charge of homicide.

In Montana there was a recent case in which a man was charged with "aiding or soliciting" the suicide of a 16-year-old girl. He is accused of trying to prevent her from testifying against him in another matter by getting her to kill herself.

This story illustrates a fundamental problem with legalizing assisted suicide. The assistant can have his or her own agenda to encourage someone to kill themselves.

Bradley D. Williams, Hamilton, Mont.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bradley Williams Uses Coombs Lee's Own Words to Impeach her.

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/assisted-suicide-aid-in-dying-not-legal-in-montana/article_74b90390-44c3-11e4-84c0-471ac6661b95.html

This is my response to Barbara Coombs Lee’s rebuttal of my guest column, “Assisted Suicide is not legal, not the answer.” 
Coombs Lee is the president of Compassion and Choices and a former “managed care executive.” See maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/coombsleebio.pdf.
My guest column described how she and her organization tout themselves as promoters of individual choice when their actual mission is to reduce patient access to cures and to promote patient suicide as an alternative “treatment.” As proof, I used her own words from an opinion piece she had written in Oregon’s largest paper.
Therein, Coombs Lee had defended Oregon’s Medicaid program, which had declined to cover a cancer treatment for a patient named Barbara Wagner, and in lieu thereof, offered to cover Wagner’s “aid in dying” suicide. Coombs Lee also argued against Wagner’s choice to be treated and argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures generally. See her opinion piece here: maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/barbaracoombsleeagainstwagner1.pdf.
Coombs Lee’s rebuttal to my guest column does not deny that she defended Medicaid or that she argued for a public policy to discourage cures. Rather, she continues and reiterates these themes. Her rebuttal also claims that “aid in dying” is legal under Montana’s Baxter decision, which is not true. Indeed, this point was conceded by a member of her own organization during the 2011 legislative session.  Dr. Stephen Speckart, who was also a plaintiff in Baxter, testified on the record:
“[M]ost physicians feel significant dis-ease with the limited safeguards and possible risk of criminal prosecution after the Baxter decision.” 
https://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/speckharttestimony.pdf 
Sen. Anders Blewett, D-Great Falls, a lawyer, offered a similar opinion, that “there’s nothing to protect the doctor from prosecution.”  See transcript at  http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/blewett_speckhart_trans_001.pdf
Assisted suicide is not legal and not the answer for Montana. Don’t be fooled.
Bradley D. Williams, president,
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide,
Hamilton

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Assisted suicide has broader application to people who aren't at "end of life"

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/assisted-suicide-has-broader-application-to-people-who-aren-t/article_ac55a646-3843-11e4-a89b-001a4bcf887a.html


I was, however, disappointed with the headline given to Friesen’s letter, which implies that assisted suicide legalization only affects people at the “end of life.” This is not true for at least two reasons.

First, in places where legalization has been proposed, “eligibility” requirements are not limited to people at the end of life. Consider, for example, Montana’s Baxter case where Compassion & Choices proposed legal assisted suicide for “terminally ill adult patients.” A formal opinion letter by Dr. Richard Wonderly and attorney Theresa Schrempp attaches a two-page copy of that proposal and states:
“Shockingly, this definition is broad enough to include an 18-year-old who is insulin dependent or . . . a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS. Each of these patients could live for decades with appropriate medical treatment. Yet, they are “terminally ill” according to the definition promoted by advocates of assisted suicide.”
http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/schrempp_wonderly_opn_ltr1.pdf

Second, even if an assisted suicide law is limited to persons expected to die in a short time, there is the problem that predictions of life expectancy can be wrong. I have seen this in my own practice.

Consider also John Norton, who was diagnosed with ALS and told that he would get progressively worse (be paralyzed) and die in three to five years. He instead has a “wonderful life” 57 years later. His affidavit states:
“If assisted suicide or euthanasia had been available to me in the 1950s, I would have missed the bulk of my life and my life yet to come.“
https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/signed-john-norton-affidavit_001.pdf
Carley C. Robertson,
Havre

Friday, September 19, 2014

Convicted rapist charged with ‘aiding or soliciting suicide’ of victim

http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/convicted-rapist-charged-with-aiding-or-soliciting-suicide-of-victim/article_65c2f39c-ae01-5104-a279-da45b352ef42.html

September 18, 2014 6:00 am  •  


A Roundup man in Montana State Prison for having sex with an underage girl is facing a new charge alleging he pressured the girl to kill herself during a live video chat in September 2013.

Last week, the Musselshell County Attorney’s Office charged Michael John Morlan, 21, with aiding or soliciting suicide, and two other felonies — intimidation and tampering with witnesses and informants.

It is unclear whether anyone has ever been charged with or convicted of aiding or soliciting suicide in Montana. Musselshell County Attorney Kent M. Sipe was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Charging documents say Morlan contacted the girl, who is now 16 years old, via Skype, an online video-chatting service, on Sept. 1, 2013, and told her to kill herself while he watched.

The documents say Morlan told her he wanted to watch so that he could make sure she was doing it right.

The alleged victim reported to law enforcement that when she started crying, Morlan told her to stop wasting air and get it over with.

Court records, quoting the alleged victim, detail a back-and-forth conversation between the two in which Morlan repeatedly told her to kill herself and pressured her to continue as she cut herself and took prescription anti-depressants.

When she started cutting her wrists, Morlan told her to cut deeper, she said. The girl said she had prescription anti-depressants and put them in her hand. When she did this, she said, Morlan told her to take all of them.

She said she took the pills and then panicked, disconnected the Skype call and went to her parents for help.

About a year prior to this incident, Morlan had been charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent involving the same girl.

The charges alleged that Morlan had a sexual relationship with her from April 2011 — when she was 12 years old — through July 2012 and that he admitted to law enforcement that he digitally penetrated the girl on July 25, 2012.

Morlan was apparently out of jail after posting bond at the time he is accused of trying to coerce the girl to kill herself.

The girl reported that in August 2013, Morlan stalked and intimidated her when she tried to avoid communication with him.

She said he threatened to make her life miserable if she went to police and told her he had people watching her.

The girl told investigators that while at the youth center in Roundup a person, identified in charging documents as B.K., came up to her and told her to “quit telling everyone that Mickey raped you.”

In November, Morlan pleaded guilty to the two rape charges. District Judge Randal I. Spaulding sentenced him to 15 years in prison, with eight years suspended.

The judge also revoked Morlan’s sentence in a 2011 felony drug distribution case and sentenced him to an additional five-year commitment.

Morlan, who is being held at the state prison, is scheduled for arraignment in Musselshell County District Court on Sept. 22.

Aiding or soliciting suicide caries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Oregon doctor's experience leads him to warn Montanans not to accept assisted suicide

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_df457041-2d8f-5c56-92c8-05d08616234d.html


Dear Editor:

I am the doctor cited by Bradley Williams in his opinion piece, “Assisted suicide is not legal, not the answer.” (Aug. 21). I am also professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health & Science University. I have treated thousands of patients with cancer.

Williams correctly describes how Oregon’s Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer patients to assisted suicide, which is legal in Oregon. In other words, Medicaid will not necessarily cover a patient’s treatment to potentially cure a disease or to extend the patient’s life. The program will cover the patient’s suicide. Desired treatments for cure or to extend life are thereby displaced with the “treatment” of suicide.

I first became involved with the assisted suicide issue shortly before my first wife died of cancer in 1982. We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said, “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

To learn more about how assisted suicide works in Oregon, please see my affidavit filed in Montanans Against Assisted Suicide vs. Montana Board of Medical Examiners.  The affidavit, with supporting documentation attached, can be viewed here:  https://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf .

Protect your health care. Don’t let legal assisted suicide come to Montana.

Kenneth Stevens,
Sherwood, Oregon

Friday, September 5, 2014

Letter Supporting Bradley Williams

Dear Editor:
I was glad to see Bradley Williams’ (Aug. 21) opinion piece disputing the false claim that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.
I retired from the Motion Picture Pension and Health Plans in Studio City, California, as the chief financial officer. One reason that I retired to Montana was that I had the perception that it was senior-citizen friendly, unlike Oregon and Washington, which have adopted laws allowing doctors and family members to assist them in killing themselves. That was repugnant to me.
Of course, now that I am in Montana, I find myself in a state targeted for the legalization of assisted suicide/euthanasia by the former Hemlock Society, now known as Compassion & Choices.
With Williams’ opinion piece describing the additional mission of that organization to discourage patient cures and to defend Medicaid against individual patient choices, I see that I have even more reason to be concerned about that organization’s agenda.
I have also read the opinion piece by Compassion & Choices President Barbara Combs Lee, which is referenced by Williams. That article can be viewed at this link: maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/barbaracoombsleeagainstwagner1.pdf.
Therein, Combs Lee not only discourages individual choices and defends Medicaid, she effectively argues that she and her organization know better than individual patients acting in conjunction with their doctors (page 2, paragraph 3). While I recognize that doctors can at times be wrong and not make the best decision, I don’t want her or her organization making decisions for me. It’s my life.
Let’s keep assisted suicide, euthanasia and the rest of Compassion & Choices’ agenda out of Montana.
Ted Friesen, Bigfork

Monday, August 25, 2014

Legalization of 'assisted suicide' leading to increase in reports of involuntary deaths

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/legalization-of-assisted-suicide-leading-to-increase-in-reports-of/article_5d456780-2975-11e4-a660-0019bb2963f4.html

I am president of the Hospice Patients Alliance. We are a charitable patient advocacy organization acting to preserve the original hospice mission to promote quality care at the end of a person’s life. I am writing in response to Gail Bell’s letter describing medical personnel over-reaching which caused the death of her mother.  [To view Gail Bell's letter, go here ]

A hidden and disturbing issue that I see in my work is the misuse of “terminal,” “palliative” and/or “total” sedation to end the life of a patient who is not otherwise dying, often instigated by a family member who stands to gain.

Consider the 2012 case against Kaiser Health Care. According to an article describing court documents, doctors killed the patient, a wealthy older man, in four hours and 40 minutes through a “terminal extubation,” which included a morphine overdose that “effectively ended oxygen support.” The patient’s daughters had allegedly urged this result in order to obtain large inheritances. See William Dotinga, “Grim Complaint Against Kaiser Hospital,” Feb. 6, 2012, available at www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/06/43641.htm. Moreover, per the article, court documents say that the doctors’ actions “caused the death of a relatively healthy, wealthy man with many more years to live and love.“

In some cases, the imposed death is due to a doctor’s assessment of the patient’s “quality of life” as opposed to the patient’s desire to live. This is often the case if the patient is disabled or elderly, or declared incompetent. Assisted “suicide” in these cases is clearly imposed death.

With the push to legalize assisted suicide, I have seen increased reports of involuntary deaths. Now, Bell’s report.

Death with dignity is never achieved by imposing death through “stealth euthanasia” or assisted suicide.

Ron Panzer, president,
Hospice Patients Alliance,

Rockford, Michigan

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bradley Williams takes on Compassion & Choices: Assisted suicide is not legal, not the answer

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/assisted-suicide-is-not-legal-not-the-answer/article_445e36c4-2944-11e4-991c-001a4bcf887a.html

For a print version to use as a handout, please click here.

Guest column by BRADLEY WILLIAMS
(with Margaret Dore).

I take exception to the opinion by two members of the former Hemlock Society, now known as “Compassion & Choices.” The opinion of July 25 implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana, which is not true.

I am the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. We are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board. As part of that litigation, we got the board to remove a position paper from its website implying that assisted suicide is legal. Assisted suicide is not legal.
The “treatment” of suicide
As part of our litigation with the board, we also obtained an affidavit from Dr. Ken Stevens, of Oregon, which is one of the few states in which assisted suicide is legal. His affidavit describes how, in Oregon, that state’s Medicaid program uses legal assisted suicide to steer patients to suicide. This is through coverage incentives. The program will not necessarily cover a treatment to cure a disease or to extend a patient’s life. The program will cover the patient’s suicide. In other words, with legal assisted suicide, desired treatments are displaced with the “treatment” of suicide.  [To view Dr. Stevens' affidavit, go here]
Backing the establishment
The former Hemlock Society, Compassion & Choices, touts itself as the great promoter of individual choice. But if you take a closer look, its actual mission is to back the medical-government establishment.
Consider the well-publicized case of Oregon cancer patient Barbara Wagner. In 2008, Oregon’s Medicaid program declined to cover “Tarceva,” a cancer drug recommended by her doctor, and offered to cover her suicide instead, terming it “aid in dying.” Wagner was devastated.
“It was horrible,” Wagner told ABCNews.com. "I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die.  But we won't give you the medication to live." http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492
The drug’s manufacturer subsequently gave Tarceva to Wagner without charge. She, nonetheless, died a short time later.
I recently asked Stevens about Tarceva. He told me that some of his patients had taken it and that for some of them it was beneficial. This was in terms of survival and better quality of life. He also told me that it can be difficult to know how a particular cancer patient will do on a particular cancer drug. He said that there are always some patients who live longer than expected, sometimes 10 or even 20 years longer, depending on the type of cancer. He said, “This is because there are always some people who beat the odds.” Barbara Wagner had wanted to be one of those people.
After Wagner’s death, Compassion & Choices stepped forward to show its true colors. Specifically, its president, Barbara Coombs Lee, published an opinion in Oregon’s largest paper taking issue with Wagner’s choice to try and live. Coombs Lee argued that Wagner should have instead given up hope and accepted her pending death. But, this was not Wagner’s choice.  [To view Coombs Lee's opinion piece, go here]
In a KATU TV interview (www.katu.com/news/specialreports/26119539.html), Wagner had said: “I’m not ready, I’m not ready to die ... I’ve got things I’d still like to do.”
A public policy to discourage cures
Coombs Lee’s opinion piece also argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures. This would presumably be through coverage incentives. For example, she said: “The burning public policy question is whether we inadvertently encourage patients to act against their own self-interest, chase an unattainable dream of cure, and foreclose the path of acceptance that curative care has been exhausted.”  [See opinion piece, page 2]
Coombs Lee is a former “managed care executive.” See (http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/coombsleebio.pdf )
Your choice is not assured by their legislation. Don’t be fooled by their double-speak.
* * *
 Bradley Williams is president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org), a grassroots group and a Montana nonprofit public benefit association. MAAS welcomes everyone opposed to assisted suicide regardless of their views on other issues.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Montana's Law Protected Me

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/physician-assisted-suicide-no-support-from-this-quadriplegic/article_96fd887e-1e47-11e4-8c4c-001a4bcf887a.html

I have read the guest column, "People living with disabilities support death with dignity" (July 25), which advocates for legalizing assisted suicide and/or euthanasia for the disabled. I could be described as such a person and this opinion does not speak for me. I am strongly against legalizing these practices.

When I was in high school, I was on track to get a basketball scholarship to college. And then, I was in a car accident. The accident left me in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic. In addition to my paralysis, I had other difficulties. Over the next two or three years, I gave serious thought to suicide. And I had the means to do it, but both times I got close, I stopped myself.

If instead, my doctor, an authority figure, had told me that ending my life was a rational course, there might have been a different result. If instead, he had given me a lethal dose to ingest or offered to euthanize me, I might have gone along with it. But assisted suicide and euthanasia were not legal in Montana. Such courses were off the table.

So, instead, I went to college to seek a degree in education. While in college, I participated in wheelchair racing at the state, national and international levels. I met my husband and 21 years later the honeymoon is not over. We have three beautiful daughters and a new baby granddaughter. I am also active in my community.

Montana's law protected me and I hope it will stay in place to continue to protect me and others as we go through the sometimes hard times of life.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be legal.

Lucinda Hardy, Columbia Falls

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mother's death provided painful, personal example of need to stop assisted suicide

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/mother-s-death-provided-painful-personal-example-of-need-to/article_3c8a1d98-1a9c-11e4-bb8e-001a4bcf887a.html

The July 25 guest column by Sara Myers and Dustin Hankinson begins with a discussion of pain, “great pain,” specifically. The paragraph goes on to use the phrase “great pain” to justify “death with dignity,” meaning assisted suicide and euthanasia.

With their column, I couldn’t help but think of my mother’s last years and the decision of others that it was time for her to die. Pain was used as a justification for increases in her medication – to get the job done. This happened three times before she finally died in the hospital on Sept. 6, 2010. The coroner’s report, case No. 100906, lists the cause of death as congestive heart failure with oxygen deprivation and “fentanyl therapy.” The manner of death is listed as “accident.”

Fentanyl is reported “to be 80 to 200 times as potent as morphine.” It’s also well known that fentanyl patch problems cause overdoses, injuries and deaths. See www.aboutlawsuits.com/fentanyl-patch-problems-continue-overdose-deaths-55136. A 100 mcg/hour fentanyl patch has a range within 24 hours of 1.9-3.8 ng/mL. Mom’s death result was 2.7 ng/mL on/or about 48 hours.

A complaint was filed by me with the Montana Board of Medical Examiners, No. 2012-069-MED. The screening panel dismissed the complaint with prejudice, which means that the board may not consider the complaint in the future.

Since then, I have talked with other people who have had similar experiences involving the death of a family member via a medical overdose. Please see here:  www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/04/dont-give-doctors-more-power-to-abuse.html 

The column by Myers and Hankinson states, “I believe one should have control of one’s life including its ending.“

I agree with that statement. However, my mother did not have that control. Others dictated for her. Please rethink legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia so that we do not give others even more power to kill.

Gail Bell,
Bozeman

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bradley Williams Published in Great Falls Tribune

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/opinion/2014/07/19/letters-suicide-aid-brown/12904197/

I disagree with Jim McCreedy's July 13 guest opinion that assisted suicide, which he refers to by the euphemism "aid in dying," is legal in Montana.

I am president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. We are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board over the status of assisted suicide in Montana. As part of that lawsuit, we succeeded in getting the board to remove a position paper implying that assisted suicide is legal.

Under "Baxter v. the state of Montana," a doctor and anyone else who assists a suicide can be charged with homicide. For more information about our lawsuit, which is pending in the Montana Supreme Court, please see our press release at   http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2014/02/maas-appeals-medical-examiner-board.html

Problems with legalizing assisted suicide include that it encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives. Legalization also creates loopholes for elder abuse, for example, when there is an inheritance involved.

For me, personally, health care is a big reason that I am against assisted suicide legalization. I am 65 years old. I don't want some doctor telling me or my wife that we should go kill ourselves. We have the right to be left alone.

For more information about problems with the legalization of assisted suicide, please go to www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/quick-facts-about-assisted-suicide.html

— Bradley Williams, Hamilton

Monday, July 7, 2014

In Montana, Elder Abuse a Growing Concern

http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/booming/elder-abuse-a-growing-concern/article_8b895eb2-0210-11e4-bf33-001a4bcf887a.html

July 03, 2014 7:45 am  •  

Did you know that every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States? According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that trend is going to continue for nearly the next 20 years.
At the same time this population is growing, we know that a startling number of elders face abusive conditions. Every year an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
But that’s only part of the picture. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, about 24 cases go unreported. The U.S. census predicts that by 2015 Montana will have the nation’s fourth-oldest population and that by 2025, 25 percent of Montana will be 65 or older. By 2030, the number is expected to double.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Protect your health care; keep assisted suicide out of Montana

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/protect-your-health-care-keep-assisted-suicide-out-of-montana/article_80004bcc-ae06-11e3-99f7-001a4bcf887a.html

I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician assisted suicide is legal. I have been following the ongoing attempt to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.

I was first exposed to this issue in 1982 shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.“

In Oregon, the combination of assisted-suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). Helpful treatments are often not covered. The plan will cover the patient’s suicide. For more detail, please read my affidavit filed on behalf of the Canadian government at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/signed-stevens-aff-9-18-12.pdf 

Our assisted suicide law was passed in 1997. In 2000, one of my patients was adamant she would use our law. I stalled her and ultimately convinced her to be treated instead. Nearly 14 years later she is thrilled to be alive.

Protect your health care, yourselves and your families. I urge you to tell your elected officials to keep assisted suicide out of Montana.

Kenneth Stevens,
Sherwood, Ore.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"My concerns about legalizing assisted suicide include that it will encourage 'lazy doctoring.'”

http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/against-physician-assisted-suicide/article_7b17e3b6-9b57-11e3-ab51-001a4bcf887a.html

I am a general medical practitioner, with 30 years experience. I was glad to see that Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has decided to appeal its case with the Montana Medical Examiner Board to the Montana Supreme Court. My hope is that the appeal will end the controversy about assisted suicide possibly being legal in Montana.

My concerns about legalizing assisted suicide include that it will encourage “lazy doctoring.” I say this because it is easier for a doctor to write a prescription (to end the patient’s life,) as opposed to doing the sometimes hard work of figuring out what is wrong with a patient and providing treatment. I am also concerned that legalization will give bad doctors the opportunity to hide malpractice by convincing a patient to take his or her life.

The American Medical Association, Ethics Opinion No. 2.211, states: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

I agree with this statement. Allowing legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Montana will compromise and corrupt my profession. Legalization will also put the lives and well-being of my patients at risk.

Carley C. Robertson, MD
Havre MT

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Supreme Court must decide suicide issue


I have been following the assisted suicide issue closely for the previous several years. I am happy to see that Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is appealing its court case to the Montana Supreme Court. In the past two legislative sessions there have been bills brought before the House and the Senate for and against legalizing assisted suicide. Compassion and Choices [the former Hemlock Society] claims that assisted suicide is already legal in the state (it is not). That false rhetoric has carried to other news mediums, out-of-state legislative bodies and the general public . . . .

We need clarification on this issue once and for all. The Montana Medical Board of Examiners conduct in adopting their position paper, implying that assisted suicide is legal, was a dreadful overstep of its authority, complicated by failing to give public notice regarding the issue.  [See MAAS petition here]

This issue will not go away until the Supreme Court undoes the mess it made with Baxter and resolves the issue by reversing the Baxter decision. The medical profession still has the respect of society. We must not allow that respect to be destroyed by putting this kind of power in the hands of doctors. Doctors can be wrong, yet the doctor is the one who ultimately will decide whether that patient is ready to die or not. This will change medical practice as we know it forever; the trust factor between patient and doctor will be destroyed.

Dr. David W. Hafer
Dayton, MT

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MAAS Appeals Medical Examiner Board Lawsuit

FOR: IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 11, 2014
FROM: MONTANANS AGAINST ASSISTED SUICIDE (MAAS)
CONTACT: MARGARET DORE, ATTORNEY FOR MAAS, 406 662 1217

For a print copy of this release, please click here.

Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) appeals Montana Medical Board lawsuit  MAAS seeks permanent removal of a position statement that wrongly implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana; appeal will also allow MAAS to continue its ongoing challenge to Montana's assisted suicide case, Baxter v. State.

(Helena, Mont.) Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Montana Board of Medical Examiners as part of an ongoing campaign to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide in Montana. The lawsuit was dismissed after the Board voluntarily discarded a position statement implying that assisted suicide "may" be legal in Montana. Without MAAS's appeal, there would be nothing to stop the Board from re-issuing a similar statement in the future.

"The only reason the Board of Medical Examiners abandoned their position paper was to get rid of our lawsuit," said Margaret Dore, Attorney for MAAS. "That's not good enough. They're just going to come back again with a new angle in the future that they hope will get around the legislature.  The position paper was a significant 'toe in the door' to the attempted backdoor legalization of assisted suicide in Montana.  The Board will attempt to do it again using another angle."

Appeal will also allow MAAS to continue its ongoing challenge to the decision in Baxter v. State, which suicide proponents claim legalized assisted suicide in Montana. A MTN News article describes the situation, as follows:

[The] position paper - in response to the lawsuit - has since been rescinded by the Board and scrubbed from its website. But [MAAS's attorney, Margaret] Dore said court action was still needed to prevent the Board from reinstating such a position.

She repeatedly asked District Judge Mike Menahan to weigh in on a Montana Supreme Court ruling known as Baxter, that envisions potential defenses to doctors charged with homicide for assisting with suicide.*
Problems with legalizing assisted suicide include that it encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives. Legalization also creates new opportunities for elder abuse, for example, when there is an inheritance involved. In Oregon, legalization has enabled that state's health plan (Medicaid) to offer the "treatment" of suicide in lieu of desired treatments (to improve the quality of life, to extend life or to cure).**

For Bradley Williams, President of MAAS, preventing assisted suicide legalization is up front and personal. He says, "I'm 64 years old. I don't want a doctor or anyone else telling me or my wife that we should go kill ourselves."

MAAS is a single issue group that welcome everyone opposed to assisted-suicide regardless of their views on other issues. In 2013, MAAS and its allies easily defeated Senate Bill 220, which had sought to legalize assisted suicide in Montana.  MAAS's own bill, HB 505, which had sought to reverse Baxter's holding and give prosecutors a lower sentencing option, passed the House, but was defeated by four votes in the Senate before it was tabled.

Please consider a generous donation to keep our lawsuit alive.  To donate, please click here.

* To view a copy of the MTV News article, go here:  http://www.kxlf.com/news/montana-judge-hears-assisted-suicide-arguments/

** To view a copy of "Quick Facts Against Assisted Suicide," go here:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/quick-facts-about-assisted-suicide.html

###

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Message to our Supporters

For a print version to use as a handout,
 please click here.

Dear Friend of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide:

As we move forward with our ongoing challenge to keep assisted suicide out of Montana, your support is extremely important.

For the last three years, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has been fighting against assisted suicide in the legislature, in the courts and in the media.  More recently, we have been prosecuting a lawsuit against the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.  The lawsuit has already caused the Board to remove a position statement implying that assisted suicide may be legal. (See Sanjay Talwani, Montana judge hears assisted suicide arguments, MTN News, December 11, 2013).

The lawsuit, however, has also been dismissed due to the Board's removal of the position statement. If we do not appeal, there will be nothing to stop the Board from re-issuing its statement - or a worse statement - the very next day.  Appeal will also allow us to challenge the Baxter decision, which some proponents claim legalized assisted suicide in Montana.

Problems with the legalization of assisted suicide include that it encourages people with years to live, to throw away their lives. Legalization also creates new opportunities for elder abuse, for example, where there is an inheritance involved.  In Oregon, legalization has allowed Medicaid to offer the "treatment" of assisted suicide in lieu of traditional treatments (to improve the quality of a patient's life, to extend life or to cure).

Do you want this to happen to you or your family?

We are asking for your financial support to help with attorneys fees and other costs of the appeal.  We are asking you to support us as your finances allow.  Any amount is appreciated.

Please make checks payable to: MAAS, 610 North 1st St. Suite 5-285, Hamilton, MT  59840.

You can donate online at this link:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/donate.html

Thank you for your support of our efforts on your behalf.

Respectfully,

Bradley D. Williams,
President
www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide
610 North First St, Ste 5-285
Hamilton, MT 59840
406 531 0937 


*  Donations may not be tax deductible.