This press release linked below was released June 15, 2013, by the Disability Rights group, Not Dead Yet. It makes the point, presented but ignored in the Vermont debate, that the affluence of those committing assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington, often cited as an indicator that these are people immune from abuse, may in fact indicate the opposite: the affluent are the most vulnerable of all to elder financial abuse.
As always, we thank Washington attorney Margaret Dore for continuing to point this out. At the beginning of the debate in Vermont, we thought the proponents of assisted suicide were reasonable people who would care about the abuse of the elderly. The lesson we learned is that they are (or surely seem to be) willing to accept a certain amount of abuse in order to have what they believe to be complete freedom over what to do with their own bodies. They are, as suicide doctor Phillip Nitschke has stated ((http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/david-penberthy-a-holiday-to-die-for-with-dr-phil/story-e6freabc-1226655125931)), willing to accept “casualties”. One Vermont senator asked an Oregon doctor how often he thought abuse would occur. He replied that even one case of coerced suicide or murder was too many for him to accept. Apparently it was not too many for her. We would ask her, as the astonished doctor did not: how many cases are you willing to accept?
The Oregon, Washington, and Vermont laws do not require patient consent at the time of death. The reports from Oregon and Washington only tell us how many patients took the drugs, not what happened before or afterwards. Vermont’s law will not track the drugs at all once the prescription is filled, and no information about how they are used will be included in any reports.
As Margaret Dore has said, filling an assisted suicide prescription is like hanging a sign around one’s neck inviting abuse. Apparently that’s OK too. Sandy Haas, the House floor manager for the VT bill the night it was passed, answered Representative Duncan Kilmartin’s question about how the law would protect against homicide after the patient got the drugs, only by saying the patient would be terminally ill. To us, the clear implication of that statement is that murdering a terminally ill person is OK. We know Representative Haas opposes abuse if the person is not dying, because she co-sponsored a bill to address Vermont’s poor response time to abuse complaints.
Are the dying the new group of marginalized people, unprotected in our laws?
This is what we’re dealing with. How do we combat this mindset? We think Not Dead Yet’s call to elder abuse professionals is a good start. They need to speak out. Why haven’t they?
Here’s the link: http://networkedblogs.com/Mdg0Z