Monday, March 8, 2010

True Compassion Advocates - Press Advisory - Washington State Assisted Suicide Report

Press Advisory
True Compassion Advocates

One Year Anniversary Protest - March 3rd, 2010

Protest of Assisted Suicide law to be held Friday, March 5th at University of Washington Medical Center

The first anniversary of the implementation of Washington's Death With Dignity Act is Friday, March 5th. A supportive care demonstration will gather in front of the UW Medical Center to protest the legalization of assisted suicide. From 12 noon to 1pm, protestors will line the sidewalk near the front of the hospital at 1959 N.E. Pacific Street.

According to Eileen Geller, RN, BSN, President of True Compassion Advocates, protestors will "stand in solidarity with seniors, people with disabilities, and other victims of the 'collateral damage' caused by legalizing assisted suicide in this state."

Over 52 Washingtonians have died under the Death with Dignity Act since the law was implemented. There were a total of 80 requests for assisted suicide, and 72 lethal drug overdoses dispensed, according to the March 2, 2010 statistics from Washington State Department of Health. Of the 80 requests, only four people received psychiatric consults assessing them for untreated clinical depression, a common problem among those with serious and chronic illnesses. Geller stated that: "I can only hope all the reported assisted suicides were not the result of untreated depression or someone else's choice." She added: "Unfortunately, given the flimsy reporting standards and potentially coercive provisions of the DWD Act, there is no way to know for sure."

The TCA president believes the overall number of people adversely affected by the Act is much higher than the official count of assisted suicides gathered by DOH. In the last year, her organization has received increasing reports of 'the collateral damage' from the DWDA, including calls about seniors who feel increased pressure to commit suicide or assisted suicide. They have also heard from health care professionals worried about vulnerable adults being adversely impacted by the "duty to die" climate fostered by the Act.

Geller, a longtime hospice nurse, stated: "These calls are an indicator of abuse. I've spoken to patients for whom this pressure is very real. With the rates of elder abuse and financial exploitation climbing, Washington's legalization of assisted suicide has created increased stress on vulnerable adults. With state budget cuts and a tough economy, the 'choice,' promised by the Death With Dignity Act, quickly becomes illusory."

"The need for creating and maintaining in our communities assisted suicide-free 'safe harbors' has never been greater," Geller emphasized. Hospitals, such as the UW, which 'opted in' to allowing assisted suicide in their facilities, along with nursing homes and adult family homes, are hearing from patients, families, and community members. They are saying that they want safe, competent care, but not assisted suicide," she stressed.

Link to the press advisory:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that there should be a choice indicated prior to implementation of this law, but afterward there is pressure. Certainly that fact of pressure should be enough to suspend that law. Especially if there are proven cases of abuse. The key word here is proven. My question is: how are they going to contact those who have died to confirm the allegations? Oh, right, you can't! Conveeenient.