Thursday, May 30, 2013

Suicide parties?

Posted on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 4:00 AM

I am a lawyer from Washington state quoted in Alex Sakariassen’s article about assisted suicide, or “aid in dying” (see “Cowardice to courage,” April 11). I am writing to urge your readers to not make Washington’s mistake by allowing assisted suicide/euthanasia to become part of your state’s legal fabric. Once in place, this “trend” is not controllable. The deaths at issue may be anything but peaceful.

In 2008, we voted for a law to legalize assisted suicide for persons predicted to have less than six months to live. By 2011, there were newspaper proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal persons. In 2012, a friend sent me this article suggesting euthanasia for people unable to afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia. In my law practice, I have had two clients whose parents signed up for the lethal dose.

In one case, one side of the family wanted the parent to take the lethal dose while the other did not. The parent spent the last months of his life traumatized and/or struggling over the decision of whether or not to kill himself. My client was also traumatized. The parent did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death.

In the other case, the parent reportedly refused to take the lethal dose at his first suicide party (“I’m going to bed. You’re not killing me”) and was high on alcohol the next night when he took the dose at a second party. The person who told this to my client then recanted, apparently concerned about his own criminal liability. My client did not want to pursue the matter further. As a lawyer, I couldn’t help but notice that if the parent’s much younger wife had divorced him, he would have got the house. This way, she got everything.

Don’t make our mistake.

Margaret Dore

Seattle, Wash.

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