In a very pro-assisted suicide story, KMGH Channel 7 in Denver interviewed Anita Cameron. Watch the video below. [Transcript available]
January 27, 2015
Coloradans Against Physician-Assisted Suicide™ (CAPAS) is a broad, diverse and growing statewide coalition of organizations, professionals and individuals, who oppose the anticipated bill in the Colorado State legislature to legalized physician-assisted suicide.
Physician-assisted suicide is bad medicine and a prescription for abuse and as such, Coloradans Against Physician-Assisted Suicide calls for its defeat.
CAPAS includes the following groups opposing the bill:
- Access & Ability Colorado (no link available)
- ADAPT Colorado
- Alliance Defending Freedom
- American Academy of Medical Ethics (Colorado Chapter)
- Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University
- Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities
- Christian Legal Society (Metro Denver Chapter)
- Christian Legal Society (Colorado Springs Chapter)
- Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
- Colorado Family Action
- Continuum Health Management
- Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
- Divine Mercy Supportive Care
- Focus on the Family
- Hospice Analytics
- Not Dead Yet Colorado
- Not Dead Yet (National)
- Patients Rights Action Fund
The additional following organizations oppose legalization of physician-assisted suicide:
- ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today)
- Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network
- Disability Rights Center
- Justice For All (no link available)
- National Council on Disability
- National Council on Independent Living
- National Spinal Cord Injury Association
- The World Association of Persons with Disabilities
- The World Institute on Disability
For media interviews on why Coloradans oppose this measure, please contact:
The following quotes are available for immediate use:
“Not Dead Yet is among a long list of disability rights organizations opposing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. This legislation is a deadly mix in a profit-driven healthcare system where a lethal prescription may become the cheapest treatment. The bill poses a direct threat to the lives of persons with disabilities and the elderly,” said Carrie Ann Lucas of Not Dead Yet Colorado.
Anita Cameron, also of Not Dead Yet Colorado added, “This legislation is unnecessary, as every patient already has the right to refuse treatment. The so-called ‘safeguards” in the bill are hollow, with no enforcement or investigative authority. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide is like putting fire into a paper bag: There’s no way to control it.”
“The American Medical Association summed it up well when it described physician-assisted suicide as fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role to heal, difficult to control and posing serious societal risks to patients. The so-called ‘right to die’ may become the duty to die for seniors who do not want to be burdens and thereby take their own lives through state- facilitated suicide,” said Dr. Jim Small with the American Academy of Medical Ethics Colorado Chapter.
Dr. Alan Rastrelli of Divine Mercy Supportive Care responds, “When curing an illness is no longer an option, and caring for a patient at the end of their life becomes the primary concern, hospice and palliative-care workers have the privilege to enter into this sacred journey with patients and families to ease their bodies through the natural course of their illness. This bill attempts to legitimize the taking of one’s own life and should be defeated.”
“Physician-assisted suicide is a bad solution to a problem we already solve every day here in Colorado,” said Jennifer Ballentine, end of life expert with Hospice Analytics. “Proponents offer a stark – and false – choice between terrible suffering or committing suicide with prescription drugs. Hospice and palliative care offer a proven and widely available alternative. In 2013, 18,500 Coloradans received hospice care from 61 agencies across the state.”
# # #
In short, Compassion & Choices is the rebranded Hemlock Society. It’s morphology into the ambiguously named Compassion & Choices can be found in the archives of the Colorado Secretary of State office.
In 1980 the Hemlock Society was founded by Derek Humphry to support legalization of assisted suicide. 1 After formerly being incorporated in Oregon, Hemlock incorporated in Colorado in 1995. 2 In 2003, Hemlock changed their name to Hemlock Foundation for End-of-Life Choices. 3 In 2004, Hemlock changed its name again, to Compassion & Choices. 4 Despite the name change, Compassion & Choices still uses Hemlock Society as a trade name. 5
As Derek Humphry pointed out, Hemlock was a recognizable brand. 6 This begs the question, why did Hemlock change its name?
Hemlock had a brand built around death — helping people die. Hemlock unequivocally advocated the right for people to end their lives, even if that meant helping people with disabilities who were not anywhere close to death, die. Hemlock’s “words and deeds mark a clear and consistent pattern of promoting assisted suicide for people with disabilities.” 7 This is an agenda that does not sit well with most Americans.
The name change reflects Compassion & Choices discovery that promoting death does not sit well with most Americans. As I have discussed before, the pro-death factions have a deliberate campaign to hide the ball with language. Hiding their background behind nebulous phrases does not change who they are. Compassion & Choices has a history of promoting assisted suicide for people with disabilities. Their proposed legislation is dangerous to people with disabilities.
- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/suicide-plan/the-evolution-of-americas-right-to-die-movement/ ↩
- http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=19951156502&masterFileId=19951156502, http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=19961012123&masterFileId=19951156502 ↩
- http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20031370105&masterFileId=19951156502 ↩
- http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20041402378&masterFileId=19951156502 ↩
- http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/ViewImage.do?fileId=20071016087&masterFileId=20071016087 ↩
- http://www.assistedsuicide.org/farewell-to-hemlock.html ↩
- http://www.broadreachtraining.com/advocacy/arhemloc.htm ↩
Last week, 9 News aired a story about Barbara Mancini, a Pennsylvania woman who was charged with assisting in her father’s suicide. The story quoted yours truly presenting the disability rights perspective to the largely pro-assisted suicide story, but with good points from the disability rights and hospice perspectives.
Mancini, who is touring as a Compassion & Choices shill in favor of assisted suicide. She recently spoke in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico among other states.
As Stephen Drake of Not Dead Yet has written, the charges against Mancini were a little puzzling. Her elderly father took a large dose of morphine, and died four days later. The cause of death said morphine toxicity, when the large morphine dose was days earlier. Mancini was charged with assisting a suicide. The prosecutors alleged that Mancini told the police she gave her father an overdose of morphine. She alleges she handed her father his morphine bottle when he asked for it. At a preliminary hearing, a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence for the case to go forward. Later her attorney filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted, and Mancini was cleared of all charges. Ultimately, the legal system worked. However, outraged that she dared be charged, Mancini is now a pawn in Compassion & Choices’ game.
Mancini and Compassion & Choices’ outrage at being charged really goes more to racial and class privilege than it does to issues of assisted suicide. Poor people, and people of color are regularly charged with crimes that are later dismissed. They don’t to tour the country on someone else’s dime to protest injustice in our legal system. As the Innocence Project, has demonstrated again and again, people, largely men of color, are wrongly convicted in our judicial system. Innocent people have been condemned to death, often due to racial and class bias. Compassion & Choices refuses to acknowledge that mistakes are and will be made with legalized physician assisted suicide. Ableism, racism, and classism will cause people to die against their will. Disabled people, people of color, and poor people know all too well how laws created to ostensibly protect us, hurt us in the end.
A look into any pro-death event, be it a Compassion & Choices event, or the bi-annual meeting of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, one thing is clear. By and large, middle and upper middle class white people are pushing physician assisted suicide. People of color, disabled people, and poor people do not support physician assisted suicide.
Every major disability rights organization who has taken a position on assisted suicide opposes the practice. We know we are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. We know we are the first to experience adverse affects from health care policy. People of color know how they too are adversely affected by so called race-neutral policies that are in actuality, not race neutral because racial divides run so deep in this country. A 2013 nationwide poll by the Pew Research center demonstrates the racial divide in support for physician assisted suicide.
% of adults who say they disapprove or approve of laws to allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients:*
|Race||% Disapprove||% Approve|
Assisted suicide is an agenda pushed by the most privileged among us. It is not designed to protect disabled people. It is not designed to assist people of color. It will not advantage poor people. Our people will experience mistakes, and undue pressure to end our lives. Physician assisted suicide is bad public policy. Mistakes will happen, and people will unnecessarily die. Colorado can do better for our residents.
* Pew Research Center’s poll on “Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments,” November 2013. National telephone survey of adults (18+) living in all 50 states and D.C. Results based on 1,994 interviews (970 landline; 1,024 cell phone) in English and Spanish as appropriate, from March 21 to April 8, 2013. Margin of error ±2.9%.http://www.pewforum.org/2013/11/21/views-on-end-of-life-medical-treatments/
Mark Twain famously said,
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
Twain’s statement has come to life in the recent Compassion & Choices poll that is ostensibly about Coloradans views regarding assisted suicide. Compassion & Choices, Formerly the Hemlock Society, commissioned a poll by Strategies 360, a marketing and damage control firm hired by Compassion & Choices to run their media campaign for assisted suicide in Colorado.
Their poll asked ” Should mentally competent, terminally ill patients with less than six months to live be able to end their life using prescription medications they can self-administer? This would be entirely voluntary on the part of all participants, including the patient, physician, and any other health care provider. Do you support or oppose this proposal?”
Note they do not use the term suicide, or assisted suicide. This is very deliberate on the part of C&C. As noted in an article by KUNC, supporters of assisted suicide “realizing that suicide has negative connotations associated with sin and desperation, shifted their language.” The polls conducted by C&C’s public relations firm, and touted in a recent media push, does not use the term suicide. Predictably, when using euphemistic language, support for assisted suicide increases.
Contrast the C&C poll with the Pew Research Center’s poll on “Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments,” November 2013. National telephone survey of adults (18+) living in all 50 states and D.C. Results based on 1,994 interviews (970 landline; 1,024 cell phone) in English and Spanish as appropriate, from March 21 to April 8, 2013. Margin of error ±2.9%. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/11/21/views-on-end-of-life-medical-treatments/
|2013||% Disapprove||% Approve|
|% of adults who say they disapprove or approve of laws to allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients:||49||47|
Pew report notes this close divide has been very stable since 2005.
The Pew poll, conducted by a non-partisan group, is thorough, and has a clear margin of error. It also measure Americans’ opinions based upon accurate language. This stands in stark contrast to the Compassion & Choices poll that uses euphemistic language.
Suicide is defined by Webster’s as: “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind.” This is exactly what C&C supports. Why not call the act suicide? They intentionally do not so as to manipulate statistics. Compassion & Choices is lying to Coloradans. We must not allow them to get away with it.
For Immediate Release: October 26, 2014
Anita Cameron, (970) 460-4035
Disability Rights Activists Protest Compassion and Choices President Visit
Boulder, CO – Disability rights activists from Not Dead Yet and ADAPT are protesting the visit to the West Boulder Senior Center of Compassion and Choices President, Barbara Coombs Lee. Coombs Lee is in town to give a presentation called, Death with Dignity: Colorado Next? as part of a national push to legalize assisted suicide.
“The legalization of assisted suicide puts me and others with disabilities at risk”, said Anita Cameron, one of the organizers of the protest, and a member of Not Dead Yet. “Due to our flawed health care system, it costs much less to kill me than to care for me. I’m at higher risk of abuse and coercion, so my ‘right’ to die evolves into my duty to die.”
The group says that there are no real safeguards in assisted suicide laws; all a doctor must do to achieve criminal and civil immunity is to state that he or she was acting in good faith that a patient was terminally ill and voluntarily sought assisted suicide. They also say that assisted suicide laws violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because people receive or don’t receive suicide prevention based solely on the status of their health, creating a double standard.
“We are not here to disrespect anybody”, said Dawn Russell, of ADAPT. “We just want to let Compassion and Choices know that we, along with a number of national disability groups oppose legalizing assisted suicide. It doesn’t give us choices. It devalues our lives. I don’t want to be pressured into killing myself, which is what this will come down to. I want to live!”