September 29, 2008
Olympia---Today, the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide announced it has started a $750,000 broadcast advertising campaign, featuring actor Martin Sheen. Sheen agreed to help publicize the dangers of Initiative 1000, the assisted suicide measure on the November ballot in Washington State.
"Martin Sheen is an outstanding actor and a person of impeccable integrity. His tireless efforts to help low income people across the country and his concern for vulnerable populations have earned him the reputation of a man who is compassionate and walks his talk," said Coalition Chair, Chris Carlson. "We are happy to add his distinguished voice to the growing chorus of people opposed to assisted suicide being legalized in Washington."
Carlson reported radio ads are beginning today (Monday, September 29), with television ads to begin on October 1st in the Seattle, Spokane, Yakima and Tri-Cities markets.
For his part, Sheen was eager to make a statement against assisted suicide.
"I try to work when I'm not on the screen to help improve conditions for the most vulnerable people in our country -- low wage workers, immigrants, the disabled and the poor," Sheen said. "We have a health care system where the more money you have, the better medical care you receive. Initiative 1000 is a dangerous idea -- because so many people do not have the money necessary to get the care they need. When I heard about Initiative 1000, I wanted to help stop it before it harms people who are at risk."
"Assisted suicide and a for-profit health care system are a lethal mixture," Carlson said. "As a society, we should be focusing more on creating safe harbors for people truly in need at the end of their life, not providing quick fixes like suicide." He added, "In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, some cancer patients have already been denied treatment and steered towards assisted suicide."
"The proponents have often suggested that assisted suicide is favored by good Democrats, liberals and progressives but that's just not the case," Carlson said. "I'm a Democrat, Martin Sheen is a Democrat, and many people opposed to I-1000 are progressives —- and that's why we're opposed; we don't want vulnerable people harmed, nor do we believe doctors should be asked to encourage people to end their lives prematurely."
Sheen is best known for his Emmy-award winning role in the drama "West Wing" where he played a Democratic president, and for many movie roles including "Apocalypse Now," "The American President," and "The Departed."
"It is absolutely crucial that voters understand the very real implications of I-1000. Most people in Washington don't even know that I-1000 is on the ballot this November, and ballots will be mailed in the next three weeks. Martin Sheen is a man of intelligence, integrity, character, and compassion, and we are grateful that he is lending his support to the effort to educate the public now about why Initiative 1000 is a truly flawed initiative and a dangerous social policy," said Eileen Geller, R.N., B.S.N., the Coalition's campaign coordinator.
According to Geller, the ads point out some of the little known, major flaws of the proposed law:
* Spouses and family members do not need to be told before — or after — a loved one is given lethal drugs.Geller noted that the Coalition Against Assisted suicide is working hard to raise more money to fund an even larger media buy, but the Coalition still expects to be outspent at least three-to-one by proponents of physician assisted suicide.
* Persons suffering from depression can be given a lethal overdose without any psychological counseling or treatment — nothing in the Initiative requires an assessment of potential depression by a qualified professional.
* Health care insurers and HMO's could exploit I-1000 to save costs, since a bottle of lethal drugs costs far less than other end-of-life care.
* Heirs to a patient’s estate are allowed to participate in the assisted suicide and to witness the request for lethal drugs. This would contravene existing practice governing wills and estates, a scenario that worries law enforcement because of the real potential for abuse.
Copies of the ads can be found at www.noassistedsuicide.com/ads.html