Shades of grey also exist in choice-homicide debate

Assisted suicide, Kavorkian

I am an attorney in Washington State. Kyle Slavin’s claim that our assisted suicide law assures patient choice is incorrect. Gaps in our law instead render our law a recipe for elder abuse.

The most obvious gap in our law is a lack of witnesses at the death. Without witnesses, an opportunity is created for an heir to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Without witnesses, no one would know what really happened except for the perpetrator. “Dad” would be dead and unable to give his side of the story. Oregon’s law has this same gap.

In February, I testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee regarding a proposed bill to legalize assisted suicide, which failed. At the time of the vote, Senator Jeff Essmann made this observation:

“All the protections (in Oregon’s law) end after the prescription is written. (The proponents) admitted that the provisions in the Oregon law would permit one person to be alone in that room with the patient. And in that situation, there is no guarantee that that medication is self-administered.

“So frankly, any of the studies that come out of the state of Oregon’s experience are invalid because no one who administers that drug against/to that patient is going to be turning themselves in for the commission of a homicide.”

Assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. It empowers other people to kill you and get away with it. Don’t make Washington and Oregon’s mistake.

Margaret Dore

Seattle, Wash.

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