Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Aid in Dying Movement Taking Hold


‘Aid in dying’ is now legal in five states and may be gaining traction in others.

70% of respondents in a 2013 Gallup Poll agreed that doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means” when patients and their families want it.  Only 51% supported allowing doctors to help a patient “commit suicide.”

Aid in dying advocates have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide” and are now promoting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states.  Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act took effect in 1997, authorizing prescriptions for legal doses when two doctors agree a patient will die within six months.  Washington approved a similar law in 2008 as did Vermont last year.  State courts in Montana in 2009 and New Mexico this year have said aid in dying is legal.

Robert Mitton, a dying Denver man, says, “This should be a basic human right.”  He wonders why he is facing an imminent death but cannot die with dignity like people in Montana and New Mexico.

See Erik Eckholm, ‘Aid in Dying’ Movement Takes Hold in Some States, The New York Times, Feb. 7, 2014.



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"Aid in dying" (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is not legal in Montana and subject to ongoing litigation. See press release below. Also, the alleged "movement" is actually a well financed marketing campaign headed by an organization whose head is a former managed care executive.

Where I live in Washington State, $5.4 million was poured into an initiative campaign to convince voters that "only" the patient could take the lethal dose. Our law does not say that anywhere. Under our law, signing up for assisted suicide has less protections than doing a will.

Please see the following articles and press release:

Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, at https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm

Margaret Dore, "'Death with Dignity': A Recipe for Elder Abuse and Homicide (Albeit not by Name)," Marquette Elder's Advisor, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2010.http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/dore-marquette-law-review-article.pdf

"Beware of Vultures: Senator Jennifer Fielder on Compassion & Choices," 2013 ("[I]t seems odd that the top lobby spender in Montana this year was Compassion and Choices, a 'nonprofit' group that spent $160,356 advocating for legalization of assisted suicide."), available at http://www.choiceillusion.org/2013/12/beware-of-vultures-senator-jennifer.html

"Montana Group Appeal Medical Examiner Board Lawsuit," Press Release, February 11, 2013, at http://www.choiceillusion.org/2014/02/montana-group-appeals-medical-examiner.html

Margaret Dore
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA 98154
206 389 1754

Posted by: Margaret Dore | Feb 12, 2014 1:17:51 PM

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