Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia, is a recipe for elder abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY MAY 19, 2016 

Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore

Proposed recommendations by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee do not solve the bill’s problems. The bill violates the Canadian Supreme Court case, Carter v Canada. Recent news stories have proven Carter wrong. This justifies a new look at the issue, including time for more study or a new law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

Contact: Margaret Dore: (613) 899-0366
margaretdore@margaretdore.com

Ottawa - Lawyer Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has been fighting efforts to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States, Canada and other countries, made the following statement in connection with Canada’s Bill C-14: 

"The Senate Committee's thoughtful recommendations include that patient 'eligibility' be defined as a 'terminal illness, disease or condition' for people at the end of life," said Dore. "In Oregon, which has a similar criteria, chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes qualify, 

Dore said, "This is because the the eligibility determination is made without treatment. The typical insulin dependent 18 year old with treatment will have decades to live, but without treatment will have less than a month to live to therefor qualify for assisted suicide or euthanasia. (William Toffler, MD declaration) The Committee’s recommendation, if adopted and interpreted according to Oregon's precedent, will encourage people with years, even decades to live, to throw away their lives.”

“Doctors can, regardless, be wrong about life expectancy, sometimes way wrong,"said Dore. "This is due to actual mistakes and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. For this reason also, the bill encourages people with years, even decades to live, to throw away their lives

"The bill is also a recipe for elder abuse, with the most obvious reason being a complete lack or oversight at the death" said Dore. "In the case of assisted suicide under the bill, no doctor, not even a witness is required to be present. This creates the opportunity for someone else, such as an heir who will financially benefit from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient, in private without consent. The drugs used are water and alcohol soluble, such that they can be administered to a restrained or sleeping person. Even if the patient struggled, who would know?" 

“The bill is a response to the Canadian Supreme Court decision, Carter v. Canada, which envisioned a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards, ” Dore said. “With no required oversight at the death, the bill has no such system.” The bill violates Carter. 

"Carter understood that that the 'slippery slope' phenomenon, in which restrictive legal euthanasia blooms into expansive euthanasia for all types of conditions and people, including children, would not happen in Canada," said Dore. (Carter, paragraphs 111 to 120) "Recent news stories prove this understanding wrong as euthanasia proponents now demand such expansion, This new development gives Parliament an opening to follow its own path, to protect the public. This could include more study or a new law prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia." Dore concluded, "This is the only sure way to protect the public." 

For more information, see: 

1. Margaret Dore, Legal/Policy Analysis of Bill C-14, May 15, 2016. Memo available here:https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/memo.pdf Attachments available here: 

https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/memo-index-final.pdf 

2. Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, 

3. Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty: Washington’s new ‘Death With Dignity’ law allows doctors to help people commit suicide-once they’ve determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they’re wrong?" The Seattle Weekly, 01/14/09.

Canada: Senate Report Recommendations Will Not Solve the Bill C-14 Problems

Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore

Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia, is a recipe for elder abuse.

Proposed recommendations by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee will not solve the bill’s problems. The bill will encourage people with years, even decades, to live to throw away their lives. The bill will remain seriously flawed and contrary to the Canadian Supreme Court case, Carter v. Canada, which envisioned a “carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards.” The bill must be rejected.

Contact: Margaret Dore: (613) 899-0366
margaretdore@margaretdore.com

Ottawa - Lawyer Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has been fighting efforts to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States, Canada and other countries, made the following statement in connection with Canada’s Bill C-14:

“The recommendations made by the Senate Committee’s thoughtful report will not solve the bill’s problems,” said Dore. “Consider, for example, the recommendation to define ‘eligibility’ as a ‘serious and incurable terminal illness, disease or disability [for a person who has] been determined to be at the end of life.’ In Oregon, which has a similar terminal criteria, chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes qualify. This is because, in practice, the eligibility determination is made without treatment. According to Oregon doctor, William Toffler, MD, the typical insulin dependent 18 year old with treatment will have decades to live, but without treatment will live less than a month. The Committee’s recommendation, if adopted and interpreted according to Oregon’s precedent, will encourage people with years, even decades to live, to throw away their lives.”

“The recommendations also raise a valid concern that there is nothing to ensure patient consent when the lethal is administered,” said Dore. “Indeed, there is a complete lack of oversight at the death. In the case of assisted suicide, no witness, not even a doctor is required to be present.”

Dore elaborated, “People who sign up for assisted suicide or euthanasia do not necessarily intend to go through with it. Maybe it was somebody else’s idea, maybe they were ambivalent or maybe they signed up “just in case” things get bad. A patient can also change his or her mind. There are many people, including heirs, who can benefit from a patient’s death. If the patient was tricked, objected or struggled, who would know?"

“The bill is a response to the Canadian Supreme Court decision, Carter v. Canada, which envisioned a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards, ” said Dore. “The bill has no such system.”

“Under current law, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act requires that all inmate deaths be investigated,” said Dore. “Bill C-14, however, amends the Act to create an exception for inmates who die by assisted suicide or euthanasia, to thereby discourage investigations.” Dore continued, “With existing investigations discouraged, the idea of a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards’ is undermined. Carter is violated.”

Dore added, “The bill also amends the Pension Act and the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-Establishment Act to deem that any deaths occurring via assisted suicide or euthanasia be treated as a result of an ‘illness, disease or disability.” Dore said, “The significance is a legal inability to prosecute criminal behavior, for example, in the case of an outright murder for the money. The cause of death, as a matter of law, is an ‘illness, disease or disability.’ The bill thereby creates the perfect crime.” 

“Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,’” said Dore. “It is not fundamentally just to allow people to be killed for their money or due to another bad motive under a regime that has no required oversight at the death, which discourages investigations and which deems deaths to be the result of an ‘illness, disease or disability,’ as a matter of law, to thereby prevent prosecution.” Dore concluded, “The bill, which creates the perfect crime, must be a violation of the Charter. It must be rejected.”

For more information, see:

1. Margaret Dore, Legal/Policy Analysis of Bill C-14, May 15, 2016. Memo available hereAttachments available here.

2. Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009,

Rhode Island debates assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Rhode Island State House Health, Education and Welfare Committee had a public hearing on an assisted suicide bill on Wednesday March 23.

Nancy Elliott testifies against assisted suicide in Rhode Island.

Jennifer Bogden reported for the Providence Journal on the hearings. According to the report, Margaret Dore, an attorney from Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal, urged lawmakers to:

"consider the details of the bill. In some cases, a person who has insulin-dependent diabetes can be considered to have a terminal illness, she said."
"This bill encourages people to throw away their lives,"

Linda Borg, reported in the Providence Journal, on the testimony by John Kelly, the New England regional coordinator for Not Dead Yet, who stated:

"Mistakes are so common when it comes to diagnoses, much less terminal diagnoses," 
"This is about putting the state's imprimatur on a program in which someone agrees that some people are better off dead."

Borg also reported that Thomas Nerney, director of the Institute for Health Quality and Ethics in Rhode Island testified that:

this bill makes "suicide a medical option (that) changes the very nature of medicine," adding that it would reverse centuries of trust between doctors and patients. 
"We have a terrible history in this country of segregating people with disabilities and pushing them into second-class citizenship," he said. Nerney worries that this bill might lead insurance companies and Medicaid to withhold treatment for terminally ill patients or withdraw coverage for expensive medications.

Link to the full article

Colorado Assisted Suicide Bills Recipe for Elder Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY3, 2016

Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore

Dore: "Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the proposed Colorado bills have it all wrong.”

Contact: Margaret Dore (206) 697-1217

Denver, CO  --  Attorney Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has fought assisted suicide legalization efforts in many states and now Colorado, made the following statement in connection with legislative hearings being held today and tomorrow on bills seeking to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in that state.  

"The bills, SB 16-025 and HB 16-1054, seek to legalize physician-assisted suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia as those terms are traditionally defined," said Dore. "The bills are described as 'aid in dying,' but their reach is not limited to dying people. 'Eligible' persons may have years, even decades, to live."

Dore said, "The bills are a recipe for elder abuse. The patient's heir, who will financially benefit from the patient's death, is allowed to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. There is no oversight over administration."  Dore elaborated, "No doctor, not even a witness, is required to be present at the death. Even if the patient struggled, who would know? The bills create the perfect crime."  

"It gets worse," said Dore. "The bills require the death certificate to be falsified to reflect a death by a terminal illness.  The significance is a loss of transparency as to the true cause of death and an inability to prosecute in the case of an outright murder for the money; the death, as a matter of law is a terminal illness."   

The Colorado bills seek to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia for people who are "terminal," which is defined as a doctor’s prediction of less than six months to live. In real life, such persons can have years, even decades, to live.

Link to the full release

New York State Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Bills Are a Recipe for Elder Abuse

Margaret Dore

Margaret Dore

Dore: "Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the proposed New York bills have it all wrong.”

Contact: Margaret Dore (206) 697-1217Albany, NY
Attorney Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has fought assisted suicide legalization efforts in many states and now New York State, made the following statement in connection with a legislative lobby day for proposed bills, which seek to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.

"There are bills pending before the New York State Legislature, which seek to legalize physician-assisted suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia as those terms are traditionally defined," said Dore. "The bills are described as 'aid in dying,' but their reach is not limited to dying people. 'Eligible' persons may have years, even decades, to live."

Dore said, "The bills are a recipe for elder abuse. The patient's heir, who will financially benefit from the patient's death, is allowed to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. There is no oversight over administration." Dore elaborated, "No doctor, not even a witness, is required to be present at the death. Even if the patient struggled, who would know? The bills create the perfect crime."  

The New York bills seek to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia for people who are "terminal," which is defined as a doctor’s prediction of less than six months to live. In real life, such persons can have years, even decades, to live.

“Doctors can be wrong about life expectancy, sometimes way wrong," Dore said. "This is due to actual mistakes: They evaluated another patient’s test results. More typically, however, doctors are wrong because predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. A few years ago, I was picked up at the airport by a man who at age 18 had been diagnosed with ALS and given 3 to 5 years to live, at which time he was predicted to die by paralysis. The diagnosis had been confirmed by the Mayo Clinic. When he picked me up, he was 74 years old. The disease progression had stopped on its own.”

“If any of the New York bills become law, there will be new lethal paths of elder abuse, which will be legally sanctioned," said Dore. "People with years, even decades to live, will be encouraged to throw away their lives. Even if you like the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia, the proposed New York bills have it all wrong.”

For more information, see:
1. Memo from Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, to Members of the New York State Assembly and Senate Health Committees, January 9, 2016, available at: (link)  See back up documentation at: (link).

2.  Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009 (link).

3.  Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty: Washington’s new "Death With Dignity" law allows doctors to help people commit suicide­once they’ve determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they’re wrong?" Seattle Weekly, 01/14/09, available at: (link). 

California's Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?

This guest column was published by the Jurist on Oct 24, 2015

By Margaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal who has been licensed to practice law in since 1986.

California has passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is scheduled to go into effect during 2016. "The End of Life Option Act" was sold as giving patients choice and control at the end of life. The bill, in fact, is about ending the lives of people who are not necessarily dying anytime soon and giving other people the "option" to hurry them along. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse and family trauma.

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as occurring when "a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act."  The AMA gives the example: "[A] physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide." Assisted suicide is a general term in which the assisting person is not necessarily a physician. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person's death. 

The AMA rejects assisted suicide and euthanasia stating that they are

"fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

In the last five years, four states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is no longer legal in New Mexico due to a court decision. There are just three states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In a fourth state, Montana, case law gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a homicide charge.
 
The California bill applies to persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. Such persons can, in reality, have years to live, with the more obvious reasons being misdiagnosis and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Doctors can sometimes be very wrong

Link to the full article

Elder abuse rates are rising in Oregon

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Oregon Stateman Journal published an article, by Carol McAlice Currie indicating that the Oregon Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations (OAAPI) had a 10% increase in allegations (38,000) for elder abuse in 2014. The OAAPI also reported that the number of elder abuse investigations increased by 10% to 18,185 in 2014. The State attributes much of the increase in allegations to the aging population and greater awareness of how to report it.

The report didn't specify the number of financial abuse allegations as opposed to the number allegations for physical abuse or neglect, nonetheless, the prevalence of elder abuse is a significant scourge on society.

The other interesting fact is that allegations were more likely to be received from people who were not obligated to report, as opposed to those who are obligated to report. According to the Statesman Journal article:

non-mandatory reporters in communities, such as bankers and financial service workers, continued across the board to outnumber mandatory reporters in reporting possible abuse or neglect by a 51 to 49 percent margin, said Joe Merrifield, who manages the research and prevention unit of OAAPI.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes that scourge of elder abuse is a sad reality in our culture that is hard to detect, even by professionals who are obligated to report the abuse. The fact is that legalizing assisted suicide, such as the Oregon assisted suicide act, creates new paths to abuse. The only difference is, in the case of assisted suicide is the victim always ends up dead and the doctor calls the death "personal autonomy."