Choice is an Illusion, a non-profit opposed to assisted suicide, has launched a new website against the Massachusetts “Death with Dignity” Initiative. The initiative seeks to enact a physician-assisted suicide act in Massachusetts.
Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion and an elder law attorney in Washington state, states: “The initiative’s introduction declares that the process will be ‘entirely voluntary’ for the patient. The act, as written, does not deliver on this promise. The act is instead a recipe for elder abuse.”
The proposed act has an application process to obtain a lethal dose for the purpose of causing the patient’s death. The act allows the patient’s heir, who will benefit financially from the death, to actively help the patient sign up for the lethal dose. Ms Dore comments: “The act allows an heir to participate as one of two witnesses on the lethal dose request form. The act also allows someone else to speak for the patient.”
“This does not meet the stink test,” she says. “Signing away your life under the proposed act has less protection than signing a will.”
Ms Dore explained that when signing a will, similar conduct can create a presumption of fraud and undue influence. There is no oversight once the lethal dose of has been filled under the proposed act.
“The death is not required to be witnessed by disinterested persons,” Dore said. “Indeed, no one is required to be present.
“Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Who would know?”
This year in New Hampshire, a similar “death with dignity” act was defeated in the House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 99. Former New Hampshire State Representative Nancy Elliott said: “Assisted suicide laws 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.”