In the light of the horrifying elder abuse statistics brought to light by elder abuse activist Marie-Therese Connolly and discussed in yesterday’s posting about her McArthur Award, it seems worthwhile to highlight one section of an article we previously posted in its entirety, eldercare attorney Margaret Dore’s “Physician-Assisted Suicide: a Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice”, originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of VT Bar Journal. The section, with its heading, is in italics below. Read the whole article, with citations, at http://www.vtbar.org/images/journal/journalarticles/winter2011/PhysicianAssistedSuicide.pdf.
Legalization Will Create New Paths of Abuse
In Vermont, there are an estimated 3,750 cases of violence and abuse against elders each year. Nationwide, elder financial abuse is a crime growing in intensity, with perpetrators often family members, but also strangers and new “best friends.” Victims are even murdered for their funds.
Elder abuse is often difficult to detect. This is largely due to the unwillingness of victims to report. “Shame, dependence on the abuser, fear of retribution, and isolation from the community are significant obstacles that discourage elders from reporting.”
In Vermont, preventing abuse of vulnerable adults, including the elderly, is official state policy. If assisted suicide would be legalized via an Oregon-style act, the gaps would create new paths of abuse against the elderly, which is contrary to that policy. Moreover, some gaps cannot be filled.
Representative Elliott (former New Hampshire state representative Nancy Elliott) states: [Assisted suicide] acts empower heirs and others to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. This is especially an issue when the older person has money. There is no assisted suicide bill that you can write to correct this huge problem.”