Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Report from Washington State on Euthanasia

Imported Article from OneNewsNow entitled, "Problems accompany legal euthanasia":
WashingtonAssisted suicide has been legal for a year in Washington, and the state health department has issued its first report.

During the first year, 63 people requested and received lethal prescriptions to kill themselves. 47 have since died, while 36 are confirmed to have used the poison to accomplish it. Although 79 percent suffered from cancer, few cited pain as the reason for seeking end of life treatment as the main concern was the cost for alternate treatment.

Rita Marker (International Tasf Force on Euthanasia and 
Assited Suicide)"What is and has been the reality of this [is] that when you transform assisted suicide into a medical treatment, it makes it just like every other medical treatment, except it's lots cheaper. And people begin to see it as a benefit for the family," comments Rita Marker, attorney and president of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (ITF).

Many of the patients had insurance, but Marker says that means nothing. It does, however, serve as a reminder of an Oregon cancer victim whose treatment was rejected by her insurance. She was told, though, that they would cover her drugs for assisted suicide. The report shows there are too many unknowns, and the possibility of murder is an example.

"After that individual got the prescription, we don't know if once they got it home they put it into the medicine cabinet and then decided, 'I don't think I'll take this' and then whether someone else thinking maybe it would be a good idea for them to take it, mixed it into their food," the ITF president poses. "There's no way of knowing."

There is an open chance for elder abuse, but no way to track it or prosecute those responsible since the law requires prosecutors to treat the death as natural.

(source for the following) ....Elder abuse takes many forms, but the ultimate elder abuse is the act of killing a vulnerable dependent person. This ultimate abuse will appear as merciful but will often be cold, calculated killing, just like the many studies are beginning to show is true today.

Link to articles concerning elder abuse:





 ....According to the report, lethal prescriptions intended to kill people were dispensed to 63 individuals. The majority were 65 years old or older, and educated. Nearly half had private insurance. These factors are consistent with their being individuals with money. Older people with money are prime targets of abuse. See Met Life Study on Elder abuse at: http://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/mmi-study-broken-trust-elders-family-finances.pdf

According to the report, 23% took this step due a concern about being a "burden." This is a marker of possible abuse because the person was pressured to feel that way.

Washington's Act is, regardless, coercive: An heir who will benefit from the death, is allowed to help the person sign up for the lethal dose; there is no requirement of consent at the time of death. See: Margaret Dore, "Death with Dignity: What do we Tell our Clients?," Washington State Bar News, July 2009. http://wsba.org/media/publications/barnews/jul-09+deathwithdignity.htm .

After the death, even prosecutors are required to treat the death (voluntary or not) as "Natural." http://www.doh.wa.gov/dwda/forms/MEsAndCoroners.pdf. Elders abused by the Act have no recourse.