I am a probate attorney in Washington State. Alex Schadenberg is right that Washington’s assisted suicide law makes it easier to cover up elder abuse, and sadly, even murder (letter, Nov. 29).
In Washington state, our assisted-suicide law was enacted by a ballot measure in which the other side spent millions of dollars promoting the law with false promises of “choice” and “autonomy.” Our law, in fact, invites coercion of “eligible” patients, often the elderly.
A point not mentioned by Schadenberg involves the lethal dose request process. Our assisted suicide law specifies that an interested person (someone who will benefit from the patient’s death) is allowed to be a witness on the suicide request form. In the context of signing a will, this same conduct of acting as a witness would create a presumption of “duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence.”
Elder abuse is rampant and often perpetrated by those closest to the victim. Victims are frequently unwilling to complain about the abuse out of embarrassment or fear. Legalized assisted suicide invites the ultimate elder abuse. How’s that for “choice” and “autonomy?“
Theresa Schrempp,Seattle, Washington