Monday, 14 July 2014

Those helped to kill themselves under Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill may have years to live

Anyone listening to Lord Falconer talking about his ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ on Channel Four last Saturday night would have been led to believe (by Falconer itself) that it applied only to patients with hours or days to live. They were being misled.

The bill actually licenses doctors to dispense lethal drugs to mentally competent adults who have less than six months to live and a ‘settled wish’ to die.

But according to Margaret Dore (pictured), a Lawyer in Seattle Washington, who has experience of a similar law, says that even six months may be a gross underestimate.  

She argues that ‘eligible’ patients may have years, even decades, to live. 

Here’s her account – the references are on her website.

Lord Falconer’s Bill, which is based on the Oregon and Washington assisted suicide laws, would legalize assisted suicide for persons with a ‘terminal illness’, defined in terms of a prediction of less than six months to live. [1] The Oregon and Washington laws have a similar six months to live criteria. [2]

Under all three laws, ‘eligible’ patients may have years, even decades, to live. This is true for the following the following reasons:

1. Predictions of life expectancy can be wrong 

Patients may have years or even decades to live because predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Consider John Norton who was diagnosed with ALS. He was told that he would get progressively worse (be paralyzed) and die in three to five years. Instead, the disease progression stopped on its own. In a 2012 affidavit, at age 74, he states:

‘If assisted suicide or euthanasia had been available to me in the 1950's, I would have missed the bulk of my life and my life yet to come.’ (Link) [3]

2. The six months to live is determined without treatment 

Consider Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, who was diagnosed with cancer and decided to ‘do’ Oregon's law. Her doctor, Kenneth Stevens, didn't believe in assisted suicide and encouraged her to be treated instead. It is now 14 years later and she is ‘thrilled’ to be alive. This is Dr Steven's affidavit filed by the Canadian government in Leblanc v. Canada, now dismissed, discussing Jeanette. This is Jeanette's affidavit, also filed by the Canadian government in the same case.

3. In Oregon, the six months to live criteria is now being interpreted to include chronic conditions such as diabetes. 

Oregon doctor, William Toffler, explains: 

‘Our law applies to “terminal” patients who are predicted to have less than six months to live. In practice, this idea of terminal has recently become stretched to include people with chronic conditions such as chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes. Persons with these conditions are considered terminal if they are dependent on their medications, such as insulin, to live. They are unlikely to die in less than six months unless they don’t receive their medications. Such persons, with treatment, could otherwise have years or even decades to live. ‘[4]

Margaret Dore is a lawyer in Seattle Washington the President of Choice is an Illusion.


  1. Superb kind of work by the team as on this particular topic people needs more precise information and special attention to it.Thanks a lot.

  2. Christopher Rule15 July 2014 at 04:55

    So my mother was terminally ill with less than six months to live for fifty plus years!

  3. Sorry, I disagree with you and I believe your comments are inflamatory and biased in exactly the same way you describe Desmond Tutu's. I am 63 years old, and luckily, apart from a bit of arithritis, in good health. However, both my husband and myself have registered Lasting Power of Attorney in relation to both finance and health and welfare. You talk about the 'slippery slope' and cite evidence from America as to how the law has been extended to include people
    who are not deemed 'terminally ill' but this is just poor legistlation. . As for your sleep anopea example (sorry I think I've spelt that incorrectly) then we have a friend who has this and uses a machine. Nn sane doctor x 2 one would consider this as a reason to provide leathal medicine. As for scaremongering about diabetes and stating that people who are dependent on medication should be included, just in case they don't take their medication, then you miss the point, which is people should have control over their lives and death. I am aware that you feel people may be forced into taking this decision and again say they feel a burden. However, actually, that's what they may feel and I don't want to be a burden to my family. It doesn't mean however that they are forcing me into taking medicine to kill myself. (Not to mention the fact that 2 doctors would also have to agree). I hardly think it's a very 'christian' view to say that people must suffer in the last few weeks/months of their lives when they would prefer to know that they have a way out of the agony that their lives have become. As for Chrisopher Rule's comments, yes then fine, his mother was misdagnosed and there is always this possibility, however, although the doctors supply the drugs the patient must take them themelves and that is the final control.

  4. Like the abortion bill that started off as a way of assisting distressed situations and deteriorated into a method of contraception - the assisted dying bill WILL deteriorate into a method of getting rid of granny to obtain an earlier than anticipated inheritance.


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