The Daily News Online serving the Lower Columbia in Washington state reported today on the widespread political opposition to Initiative 1000, the Washington state plebiscite to legalize assisted suicide.
Democrat State Senator Margarita Prentice stated “It has virtually no protection for low-income and vulnerable people from being pressured into prematurely ending their life,”
Prentice, a registered nurse and chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee believes that “This very dangerous initiative never would have passed the legislature”
Republican representative Lynn Schindler stated that “Voters should realize that 25 states around the country have rejected this kind of dangerous proposal.”
Schindler warned people that “Under Initiative 1000, persons who are ill could feel pressured by organizations to end their own lives to escape the financial burden”
19 republican and 4 Democrat law makers have united to oppose Initiative 1000.
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire also opposes the measure. She said: “I find it on a personal level very, very difficult to support assisted suicide.”
The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide is particularly concerned about two provisions in the initiative:
• It does not require terminally ill patients to undergo a mental health evaluation before obtaining lethal drugs; even those with depression can seek assisted suicide.
• The family members of the patient need not be given notice of the patient’s intent.
Sen. Prentice said there is a danger that “physicians can prescribe lethal drugs to patients who are depressed or mentally ill.
In 2007, according to the Oregon Department of Health, not one patient in Oregon, where assisted suicide was legalized by plebiscite, was referred for psychological counseling, a sure sign to me there is nothing to protect those suffering psychological distress.”