Sunday, December 21, 2008

CAAS needs YOU!

Dear awesome CAAS Coordinators and Volunteers,

So many of you have called and emailed asking, "What next?" and your grit and determination have been nothing short of inspiring.  We all needed a chance to step back, take a breather and regroup.  But, as promised, it ain't over!

As we all know, I-1000 will be written onto the Washington state books this March, making it legal for doctors to help patients kill themselves.  And while I-1000 is a devastating blow to the vulnerable in our state, we can still work to protect them until this awful law is overturned.  Over these next few months, CAAS will be sending updates about easy ways that YOU can continue to rally against I-1000, impact the way the law is written and continue to advocate for the vulnerable.

Below is super time-sensitive information (deadline is this Monday, December 22) regarding the Washington State Department of Heath; curl up with a cup of coffee or cocoa (since no one should be doing anything outside in this insane weather), read through the info and send a quick comment to the DOH (and get your family and friends to do the same; the more comments sent to the DOH, the more they will take notice).  This is the first step to muddying the waters surrounding assisted suicide.

So onwards and upwards, my friends!  We CAN do this; we have the volunteers, we have the dedication and we have the vulnerable to protect.  Let's do it.

CAAS Outreach

The Washington State Department of Health is in the process of creating the rules and program administration that will govern Initiative 1000 now that it is set to become law.  In Oregon, the rules set up by the health department are seriously flawed and have resulted in secrecy and abuse.

In order to prevent that from happening here
, we need as many people as possible to contact the Department of Health before the end of the work day this Monday, December 22.   The Department of Health keeps track of how many people comment about proposed laws-so even a few minutes of your time and that of your volunteers, family, friends, or relatives will make a huge difference in trying to keep as many vulnerable people as we can safe from this lethal law.  

To comment, go here  and click on "Add Comment".  Here are some helpful points to make regarding the institution of I-1000 (choose a few to send in or come up with some of your own):

     1) The Death with Dignity Act allows physicians licensed by the Department of Health to prescribe substances to intentionally cause their patient's death.  This poses a real danger to the public if not properly regulated. 

    2) Since The Death with Dignity Act was adopted by initiative, experienced legislators did not have a chance to identify and correct the risks to the public.  The Department of Health therefore has a special responsibility to enact regulations to help to protect those made vulnerable by I-1000.

    3) Oregon's administrative regulations are flawed. They should not serve as a model for the people of Washington.  The Oregonian, Oregon's largest newspaper, stated that the Oregon system of administrating their Death with Dignity act "seems rigged to avoid finding answers."  The Disability Rights Education Defense Fund deems the Oregon reporting system "flimsy." In the Michigan Law Review, Herbert Hendin  and Kathleen Foley give a detailed account of the flaws in the Oregon system.  They report that: "The problem lies primarily with the Oregon Public Health Division ("OPHD"), which is charged with monitoring the law. OPHD does not collect the information it would need to effectively monitor the law and in its actions and publications acts as the defender of the law rather than as the protector of the welfare of terminally ill patients." ([1]"Physician-Assisted Suicide in Oregon:  A Medical Perspective." Michigan Law Review; [Vol.106:1613])

    4) Neither the Oregon regulations nor the proposed rules from Washington have any sufficient requirements for transparency in order to assure patient safety from abuse. The Death with Dignity Act lacks adequate informed consent and information about life-affirming alternatives to assisted suicide such as hospice and palliative care. Even more seriously, it lacks protections against coercion, elder abuse, and disability abuse.  The Department of Health should dedicate sufficient resources to detect underreporting, noncompliance and violations. The DOH should keep track of data, including information about patients who are requesting assisted suicide, physicians who are prescribing it or not prescribing it and why, and accurate documentation about terminal illness, mental competency and clinical depression.  The DOH should also retain information about witnesses to the request, the medications prescribed, the effect of those medications, and whether witnesses were present at the time of death. 

    5) I urge the Department of Health not to copy Oregon's inadequate regulations and flawed structure.  Please protect the welfare of Washington citizens by creating robust administrative rules and common sense reporting requirements which will serve as a safety net for vulnerable Washingtonians.  

To read the draft of the DOH rules and forms regarding I-1000, go here: