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Assisted Suicide Initiative Draws Opponents from Seattle & Sioux Falls

Two ballot question committees have formed to oppose South Dakota’s “Death with Dignity“/assisted suicide initiative, and that initiative hasn’t even made the ballot yet.

On June 17, Seattle attorney Margaret K. Dore filed a statement of organization for “Choice Is an Illusion South Dakota” (mmm… let’s get metaphysical). Dore writes frequently in opposition to “death with dignity” laws in her home state of Washington and elsewhere, saying that laws allowing terminally ill patients to request lethal prescriptions to end their lives early open the door to elder abuse. South Dakota’s measure is largely copied from Washington’s existing assisted-suicide statutes. Dore has already launched a website to campaign against the measure and discourage South Dakotans from signing the petition to place the initiative on the ballot. I will be curious to see whether Speaker G. Mark Mickelson and other Republicans try to ban Dore’s out-of-state money from the debate over the assisted-suicide initiative.

In a May 20 blog post urging South Dakotans not to sign the assisted-suicide petition, Dore claims, “The measure is sold as completely voluntary, but someone else is allowed to speak for the patient during the lethal dose request process, even a stranger.” This claim is deceptive: the initiative text circulating requires two witnesses sign a patient’s written request for life-ending drugs, but nothing in the initiative authorizes anyone to “speak for” a terminally ill patient; the patient herself must make every request.

On June 23, Lance Nielsen of Sioux Falls filed a statement of organization for “Suicide Is Suicide.” Nielsen gives his committee’s street address as 2101 W. 41st St., Sioux Falls, SD 57105, which is also the address for the Samp Law Office. Someone has reserved the domain name for Nielsen’s committee to use for a contact e-mail address, but no website has yet been posted to that domain.


  1. Angie 2017-07-03 11:34

    As the Director of Death with dignity SD, I am happy to speak to the Truth of this iniative. No one can “abuse” anyone with this Act. This is just another example of others using scare tactics and propaganda to discourage people from learning the truth. I would never personally sponsor an initiative that “abuses the elderly “.
    Follow us on FB, Death with Dignity SD.

  2. Kristi 2017-07-03 11:40

    I have long supported Death with Dignity, even before my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer (terminal for her). Every day she asked me if this was the day she would die. She asked me to help her. I’m an RN and helped her throughout her life with medical issues, appointments, treatments and advice. I could not help her with this one and it broke my heart. My mom was of sound mind and had chosen her path throughout her life. She refused all meds hoping that would bring death. I loved her and I wish I could have helped her this one last time. As a daughter who has been in this position, as a RN, and as a human being, I fully support Death with Dignity.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-03 11:40

    So to be clear, Angie, there’s no provision of this statute that allows anyone to “speak for” a patient requesting a life-ending prescription?

  4. Amanda 2017-07-03 11:58

    I have read this initiative in full, and nowhere in it does it state that someone else may make a request for the terminally ill patient. The patient must make all requests, both verbally and in writing on their own. This appears to be scare tactics that out of state entities are using here and they are lies.

  5. Chris Robinson 2017-07-03 13:38

    I, and family moved out here from the greater Seattle area a few short months ago. While I enjoy the atmosphere in general of Washington state, this is one argument they should worry about at home not in another state.
    I have a terminal illness. I do not intend to end my life at this time, but I wish to have the right to do so on my terms should I reach a point of not being able to function.
    Seattle should just worry about their own ass and healthcare situation versus that of a state halfway across the country.
    While I still own a company in Washington state, I will not be supporting their involvement in out of state politics. keep their money out of this fight!

  6. bearcreekbat 2017-07-03 18:01

    What about the end of life directives, or the so called “living will” and “durable power of attorney?” These popular and easily available legal documents authorize the holder to refuse treatment that might extend the life of the granter when he or she no longer has the capacity to make such decisions, including the refusal of water (and food, although dehydration kills much quicker than starvation), and the removal of life support systems (that could otherwise keep someone alive indefinitely even if diagnosed as brain dead with no hope of recovery).

    Is there anything in the proposed death with dignity legislation that negates this power to make a life ending decision for someone who no longer has the mental capacity to decide for himself, such as a dementia patient?

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-04 08:48

    That’s a good question, Bearcreekbat! The language is all about patients themselves making the requests and self-administering the prescriptions. Patients must make an oral request, a written request, and a follow-up oral request. There is no mention of power of attorney or otherwise designated representatives. Does power of attorney allow such oral requests?

    Section 2 specifies that a patient must be “competent” and “voluntarily expressing a wish to die.”

  8. Margaret Dore 2017-07-05 03:20

    Hi Cory,

    Below is my response to your post about my post.

    Also, it’s easier to read my actual response, which is formatted and can be viewed here:

    Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

    Margaret Dore

    Title: Someone Else Is Allowed to Speak (and Write) for the Patient

    Yesterday, the Dakota Free Press ran an interesting article about the proposed initiated measure, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in South Dakota.

    The article, however, contains two errors. This is understandable given the measure’s deceptive language.

    The article says that nothing in the measure authorizes anyone to “speak” for the patient during the lethal dose request process and that “the patient herself must make every request.”

    These statements are erroneous due to the measure’s definition of “competency,” which allows someone else to communicate for the patient, as long as the communicating person is “familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating.” The measure states:

    “Competency,” [means] in the opinion of a court or in the opinion of the patient’s attending physician or consulting physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, a patient’s ability to make and communicate an informed decision to health care providers, including communication through persons familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating if those persons are available …. (Emphasis added).

    Initiated measure, sec 1(2).

    “Communicate” is also a broad term that includes speaking and writing. Someone else is allowed to communicate (speak and write) for the patient.

    * * *

    Note also that being “familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating” is a very minimal standard. Consider, for example, a doctor’s assistant who is familiar with a patient’s “manner of communicating” in Spanish, but she, herself, does not understand Spanish. That, however, would be good enough for her to communicate for the patient during the lethal dose request process.

    The bottom line: Someone else is allowed to speak and write for the patient, even a stranger.

  9. Margaret Dore 2017-07-05 03:54


    As you noted in your post, the South Dakota measure is based on Washington State’s law. You may be interested in this article about Washington’s law that I wrote shortly after it was passed. Non-lawyers tell me they like it.

    “A client wants to know about the new Death with Dignity Act, which legalizes physician-assisted suicide in Washington. Do you take the politically correct path and agree that it’s the best thing since sliced bread? Or do you do your job as a lawyer and tell him that the Act has problems and that he may want to take steps to protect himself? . . . .”

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 06:29

    Thank you, Margaret, for explaining the basis of your claim that others can speak for the patient in making the requests for life-ending prescriptions. Can you point to instances in which that definition of competency has been used in Washington or Oregon to allow someone other than the patient to speak to the doctor and request the life-ending prescription?

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 06:36

    “Communicate” appears only in the Section 1 definition of “competency”. It does not appear to be a key term in the sections that lay out the requirements for the patient to make the oral and written requests for the life-ending prescription (Sections 2, 3, 9, 11, or 12).

  12. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 06:56

    Attorney Margaret Dore is president of Choice is an Illusion , which has fought assisted suicide and euthanasia legalization efforts throughout the United States, said, “The Act is stacked against the patient and a recipe for elder abuse.” Dore elaborated, “The patient’s heir, who will financially benefit from the patient’s death, is allowed to actively participate in requesting the lethal dose. After that, no doctor, not even a witness, is required to be present at the death. Even if the patient struggled, who would know?”

  13. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 07:32

    Sherry Minor’s husband, John, was suffering with a painful terminal lung disease last year. The 80-year-old retired psychologist had lost 80 pounds and could barely eat or talk.
    “He just thought he couldn’t go on,” she said.
    But they struggled to find a doctor who would participate under the law, until they switched to Kaiser and ultimately got a prescription.
    “It was an enormous relief,” said Minor, who lives in Manhattan Beach, CA. “He just felt more comfortable with that mentally.”
    John Minor, surrounded by his family, took the pills in September 2016.
    “John did what was right for him,” Minor said. “He died peacefully, rather than in agony, and he was in control. He didn’t feel afraid or helpless.”
    ~ The majority of those who have died under aid-in-dying laws in both Oregon and California were white, college-educated cancer patients older than 60.

  14. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 07:43

    Cory, ask yourself why does the author of the measure define competency in this manner? What are the real-life consequences to allow another person — any person, even a stranger, to communicate for the patient? In 2017, this measure was introduced in 23 states and failed in each of them, including very blue states like HI. There are obviously many reasons for failure, but i suspect the definition of competency is among them.

  15. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 08:35

    The South Dakota measure is unique to South Dakota and wasn’t introduced in 23 states. Ask yourself why Fred Deutsch and hired-gun Margaret Dore go against God’s will and don’t want you to have free will. God gives us choice in life and the ability to choose for ourselves. Limiting our choices is just plain bullying.

  16. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 09:05

    In response to Mr. Lansing and to help educate interested readers, I encourage people to read the bills and listen to testimony. There is nothing unique about SD’s measure. References are below:

    Defeated Bills regarding Assisted Suicide in 2017

    • Oklahoma: HJR 1009 (Ballot measure)
    • North Carolina: HB 789
    • New York: S.3151/A.2383 , A.3598
    • Delaware: HB 160
    • Rhode Island: House Bill 5468, Senate Bill 224
    • Oregon: SB 893 (allowed health care agents to fulfill requests for lethal drugs)
    • Mississippi: Senate Bill 2283
    • Utah: HB 76
    • Tennessee: SB 1378, HB 1394
    • Maryland: SB 354
    • Wyoming: HB 0122
    • New Mexico: House Bill 171, SB 252
    • Indiana: SB 273, HB 1561
    • Nebraska: Legislative Bill 450 l
    • Connecticut: H.B. No. 6024, HB 6238
    • Kansas: HB 2120
    • Arizona: HB 2336
    • Iowa: Senate File 215, House File 299
    • Missouri: HB 524
    • Hawaii: SB 1129
    • Alaska: HB 54
    • Maine: LD 1066
    • Nevada: SB 261

  17. Jenny 2017-07-05 09:15

    I don’t know why groups even bother with initiatives like this in SD, it won’t pass. SD is too conservative to ever consider assisted suicide. I am not against this but really don’t think it’s needed since we already have death with dignity and it’s called hospice.
    The cannabis initiative won’t pass either. SD will be the last state to make it legal when it finally does happen.

  18. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 09:23

    You’re absolutely correct in your predictions, Jenny. I suppose there are some in the political minority that just can’t stand being told what to do by overbearing bullies. I won’t pester everyone with why these bullies do what they do but volumes have been written by psychologists. Abusive parents, low self-esteem, uncontrolled religious zealotry and molestation as children rank high on the list.

  19. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 09:25

    PS … My daughter is a Hospice Administrator and there’s a big difference. Once the euthanasia was passed here they had many days of training in how to approach the new law.

  20. Jenny 2017-07-05 09:55

    Porter, do the nurses or doctor actually administer a poisonous drug into the person’s system?
    How long has Colorado’s assisted law been in effect? Have rates of deaths gone up? Would they go up statistically overall if the people are just dying quicker rather than waiting? Some many philosophical questions here.
    Do you have to have a terminal disease to choose assisted suicide?

  21. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 10:21

    Nurses and Doctors from Hospice don’t administer and aren’t allowed to point people toward doctors that write end of life prescriptions. It has to come from the patient’s primary doctor or oncologist. Our law has been in effect only a few months and my daughter just texted me that very few doctors in CO are writing prescriptions, currently. You have to be within six months of death to be prescribed. An article in the DenPost this morning states that 10 prescriptions have been written and statistics won’t be available until the end of the year. Advocates say about one in three people prescribed life-ending drugs don’t take them. Here’s a story from a lady near me and the article I mentioned.
    ~ Patti James, an 81-year-old from Littleton with lung cancer, said that decision should be hers. She has fought cancer for 11 years and said she can’t take any more radiation. “I’ve had a long run with it.”
    James said her choice to live or die, when the time is right, will be a personal and private one. She campaigned last year for the law.
    “We met so many people begging us to get this passed,” James said. “Not just sick people, but people who want to have this option available if they ever needed it.”

    Patti James, and 81-year-old from Littleton with lung cancer, said that decision should be hers. She has fought cancer for 11 years and said she can’t take any more radiation.

    “I’ve had a long run with it,” she said.

    James said her choice to live or die, when the time is right, will be a personal and private one. She campaigned last year for the law.

    “We met so many people begging us to get this passed,” James said. “Not just sick people, but people who want to have this option available if they ever needed it.”

  22. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 10:48

    In response to Mr. Deutsch and to help educate interested readers, I encourage people to read the bills and ignore biased testimony. SoDak’s bill is not the same as defeated bills, prior. Let’s start with a state that is often compared to South Dakota. Mississippi. Compare the two and you’ll see wording that is much different. The claim that the two are identical is distorted, misleading and non-factual.
    South Dakota …..

  23. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 11:47

    Interested readers should compare the SD and Mississippi measures. You will see they are very close. Some of the sections are word for word identical. Other sections are very close. One of the major differences is the SD measure establishes the DEATH PENALTY or life imprisonment with no possibility of a lighter sentence, and up to $50,000 in fines for a person who “willfully alters or forges a request for medication . . .” (see Section 24); whereas the Mississippi measure establishes a felony penalty of not less than one (1) year nor more than twenty (20) years and fined not 479 more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), or both.

  24. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 12:04

    Mr. Deutsch has changed his original statement? The two bills are no longer identical but they’re now “very close”. Mr. Deutsch … a chicken and a duck both lay eggs, sir. But, a chicken is not a duck.
    ~ Both states suggest very harsh penalties for falsely obtaining powerful medicine that can kill. Doesn’t that seem proper?

  25. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 12:31

    The proposal expands the death penalty in South Dakota. The question for voters is do we want to add another offense to the list by which the state may execute people.

  26. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 12:39

    Stay on topic. The question is “Do people with less than six months to live have a right to choose death on their own terms.”

  27. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 13:10

    That’s not the only question. There are many questions. Expansion of the death penalty is a concern to some South Dakotans. If it’s a big enough concern then they may want to vote against this measure.

    People currently have the ability to commit suicide at any time and for any reason. What this measure does is involve government by licensing physicians and regulating the practice. One of the many questions South Dakota voters need to ask is “do we want the government involved in the regulation of suicides?

    As seen in the election results from the 23 states referenced above, people on both sides of the aisle voted against this measure, including progressives, and in each and every state the majority opinion was against legalization of assisted suicide. I understand you support the measure, but readers need to ask themselves what is it about this measure that so turns off people that even in powerful blue states like HI, the majority of Democrats voted against it.

  28. Miranda Gohn 2017-07-05 14:34

    I would not support this west coast assisted suicide measure and would side with Fred on this issue.

  29. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 14:56

    1. The overriding and most important question regards choice. The other questions make up less than 5% of the issue and are being used to misdirect.
    2. A majority of voters from only a minority of states voted no. This doesn’t indicate a national trend in population centers. The five states that have legalized the issue have population nearly equal to the 23 that so far haven’t.
    3. I don’t care if you get an abortion, use cannabis or use a doctor’s prescription to ease your final days as it’s your choice and none of my business. God gives us all free will to choose. I care about choice and I fight the bullies who want to deny it because of their personal, over-zealous religious beliefs, no matter what others want for themselves.
    4. Readers need to ask themselves if, like most issues of this nature, it will need to be on the ballot once, twice or three times before it inevitably passes.

  30. MC 2017-07-05 15:34

    I am having a really tough time with one.

    I know in my heart, suicide is wrong, no matter how it is done.

    Yet I have witness the pain and suffering a prolong condition. Not just of the patient, but of their family as well. Not just the financial burden, the emotional stress well. I have seen marriages tested, families torn apart. It is really, really tough to watch.

    Yes, I believe in miracles. I have seen them happen before me. I have also seen families brought closer together, and made stronger, even in the loss of a family member, new friendships have been forged between some very unlikely families.
    (for the record, I have been there)

    So far, nothing I have seen or heard have moved me to one side or the other.

  31. Angie 2017-07-05 15:36

    The terminally ill person who wishes to consider using the death with dignity option and also happens to be unable to speak would either write out their request or designate a trusted person who is familiar with the manner of their way of communicating to express their request. The terminally ill person is not going to be forcibly brought before two physicians, forced to sign a written document and forced to consume the drugs. It is ludicrous to suggest this could be done without someone objecting. In the almost 20 years Oregon’s law has been available, 9 years in Washington and 4 years in Vermont, there has not been the slightest hint that someone who was unable to speak was coerced, cajoled, or urged to use the law against their wishes.

  32. Angie 2017-07-05 15:42

    Here is what it comes down to.

    IF someone else, whom you have no right to judge, is terminally ill and has done all the proper steps to use this Act, who are YOU to tell them Yes or No?

    This is one of our biggest problems of today. Corrupt people with “agenda’s” getting in everyone else’s business or life/death choices.

    It’s simple. If you don’t want to EVER use the Act, DON’T! Simple. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO and for others to lie and twist the truth around is just to push their agenda, whatever that may be is just plain wrong.

    I have ZERO to gain by this initiated measure to pass, nothing, not one thing. ALL I want is to give compassion to those South Dakotan’s in need and let THEM decide during their most difficult time how they want pass. IT is NOT my place, neither is it yours to judge them for it…. so move along and go do something GOOD with your time besides judge others!

    Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Death with Dignity SD or online

  33. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 15:49

    Mr. Lansing:

    1. With respect, I disagree. People currently have choice. People can commit suicide any time, any place and at any age.

    2. National trends don’t matter because this is a state’s issue. Twenty-three attempts to pass this in 23 states this year all failed. What’s important for voters to know is why it failed 23 times and didn’t pass even once. Twenty three thoughtful groups of people evaluated the language and found it not to their liking.

    3.I don’t consider this a religious issue. Perhaps you do. That’s just one way we differ. People have choice right now.

    4. That is your opinion. I respect that.

  34. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 16:11

    ~ Nice try, Mr. Deutsch but NO, people don’t have the right to euthanasia. (I only refer to this issue as assisted “suicide” because you’d say I was being misleading, as I believe you are. You know as well as we all do that if you commit suicide your life insurance policy is void and your family is denied what is rightfully theirs.
    ~ Nice try, but if this isn’t a national issue why do you inject a group of nearly half the country into the question? It’s a national issue except when it isn’t? As your little buddy says, “Pick a lane, Deutsch.”
    ~ I maintain this is a wholly religious issue for you, just as abortion is for you, but if you deny your Lord tell us why you don’t want people to have the choice to exercise free will. What gives you the right to interfere in my decisions? People do NOT have the choice or it wouldn’t be on petition. Suicide is illegal. Breaking the law isn’t a valid choice for end of life decisions.

  35. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 17:48

    So Angie, is Margaret correct when she says the wording of the definition of “competency” allows other people to “speak for” the terminally ill patient? Your response appears to say the answer is yes and that I need to correct my statement in the original post.

    I understand that I’m working on a narrow legal question and the meaning of specific words rather than the overall intent of the law, but these things matter. We may interpret “speak for” in different ways. The Washington law does not appear to let a third party “speak for” an individual who is unable to communicate. From the explanations given by Margaret and Angie, it does allow a third party to “translate for” a communicative individual whose communication is somehow limited to signals the doctor cannot understand.

    However, I would expect that, under this law, a doctor would exercise great caution in assigning competency to a patient whose only means of communicating is through one particular interpreter. If I were a physician, I might even say to a third-party interpreter, “If I can’t make some sense out of the sounds and gestures this patient is making that somehow corroborate what you’re telling me, that this patient wants to die, I’m not writing any prescription for you.”

  36. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 17:50

    MC, I don’t believe in miracles. I won’t pass a law that requires you to surrender your hope in miracles. But if we refuse to pass this law, do we force others to cling to hope in miracles in which they may not believe?

  37. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 18:40

    All, Perhaps you support the right to obtain lethal drugs to commit suicide. The challenge for the people bringing the measure to SD is to craft language that allows distribution of the drugs while at the same time protecting and safeguarding everyone else in society. On that note, the measure fails miserably — and IMO, is the reason it has failed 23 times this year in 23 states.

    Discerning, thoughtful people, many of whom may well support AS, have said, “no, not this bill, not this language.”

    Cory, you asked a question: “So to be clear, Angie, there’s no provision of this statute that allows anyone to “speak for” a patient requesting a life-ending prescription?”

    Angie responded: “The terminally ill person who wishes to consider using the death with dignity option and also happens to be unable to speak would either write out their request or designate a trusted person who is familiar with the manner of their way of communicating to express their request.”

    There you have it. Angie and her crew should stop saying otherwise. Per the definition of competency in Section 1, it’s very clear this measure allows a third party to speak (or write) for the patient.

    To be clear, the language does not require the person be a “trusted” person. It can be any person. And, it does not require the person be unable to speak. According to the measure, any person can speak for the patient.

    If we lived in a world of perfect families, that would not be an issue. But the truth is we don’t. We live in a world and a state in which elder abuse is a problem – and this measure opens up a can of worms.

    In my final response to Mr. Porter, you seemingly have not read the measure. To answer your questions, I refer you to sections 17 and 18.

    Angie, you believe opposition is rooted in judgment. It is not. The opposition is rooted in the poorly developed and misleading language of the measure. Craft a tightly worded bill that protects society — especially the elderly, the young, the disabled, the poor, and others that this measure puts at risk — and then lets have a debate about the merits of AS.

  38. bearcreekbat 2017-07-05 18:53

    Speaking for someone who cannot speak for himself or herself is exactly what durable powers of attorney are designed to do. If a competent individual vests the power to make life and death decisions in a trusted family member by DPOA, then it seems that would authorize decisions under the proposed assisted suicide laws.

    And, as Porter has pointed out, although anyone who breaks the law by committing suicide cannot be prosecuted, anyone assisting that individual would be subject to – at a minimum life sentence – or the death sentence, depending on the circumstances.

    As for the Bible and abortion, Porter, it appears that the NIV translation not only authorizes abortion, but requires Priests to induce abortion under certain circumstances. Numbers 5:18-31 (NIV).

  39. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 19:10

    Sections 17 and 18 say that life insurance will be paid only if this Death With Dignity law is enacted. Your claim that we already have choice is non-factual.
    ~It seems every time I’ve had a debate with Mr. Deutsch he runs away when he loses. It happened with abortion and it’s now happened again with this petition. Once his “motivation” for challenging people’s rights are questioned, he folds up like a sunflower in the sun. He has an overbearing and overwhelming desire to tell people (especially women) what to do, stemming from his minority religious group affiliation. Thanks for your time, Fred.
    In Conclusion …
    In South Dakota a citizen already HAS the right to refuse life saving treatment or medicine through a living will, which is simply DeFacto (in fact, or in effect, whether by right or not) very slow, painful, suffering suicide. Physician assisted suicide is merely the logical extension of your right to personal medical treatment choices. I recommend signing the petition and voting for choice. What you do after that is personal.

  40. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 19:15

    BCB … It’s off topic a bit but the bible says that life begins when a birth happens and the newborn is blessed with a soul. There’s no such thing as an “unborn life”. See Exodus 21:22-25.

  41. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 19:15

    Cory, let’s talk about the humane and dignified death of Uncle Charlie.

    It is 2025, and the AS laws has been a part of SD’s laws for seven years. And so we turn to Uncle Charlie, a formerly affable and still rich bachelor.

    At the age of 72, Uncle Charlie suffered a stroke which left him unable to speak and write. Further minor strokes have impaired his mobility.

    Uncle Charlie has recently been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live.
    Within a week of Uncle Charlie’s diagnosis, his favorite nephew Felix flies in from the West Coast with his girlfriend Francesca.

    Felix is the principal beneficiary of Uncle Charlie’s Last Will and Testament.

    After spending some time with his favorite uncle, Felix informs the attending physician that Uncle Charlie has requested, orally, a prescription to end his life in a humane and dignified manner.

    Uncle Charlie’s attending physician has made the determination that Uncle Charlie suffers from a terminal disease that will likely cause his death within six months, and that Uncle Charlie is competent.

    He has a question on whether Uncle Charlie can communicate his desire. He interviews Uncle Charlie, with Felix present as one familiar with Uncle Charlie’s method of communication. One grunt, Felix assures the doctor, means yes. A consulting physician confirms in writing Uncle Charlie’s prognosis, diagnosis and competency.

    The attending physician informs Uncle Charlie of his diagnosis, prognosis, the potential risks of taking the medication, the likely result of taking the medication.

    Uncle Charlie grunts once.

    The following week, Felix signs a written request for a prescription for medication to end Uncle Charlie’s life in a humane and dignified manner. Both Felix and Francesca witness the written execution.

    Felix is an heir to Uncle Charlie’s estate, but Francesca is not. The written request is valid.

    Fifteen days following the first oral request and more than 48 hours after the written request, Uncle Charlie makes his second oral request to the attending physician. The communication is again made through Felix.

    The attending physician offers Uncle Charlie the opportunity to rescind his request.

    Uncle Charlie grunts twice. This means no.

    There were no witnesses when Uncle Charlie takes the medication.

    The attending physician states on the death certificate that Uncle Charlie died of cancer, not of asphyxiation due to choking on the vomit induced by his medication.

    Under the laws of the state of South Dakota, Uncle Charlie ended his life in a “humane and dignified manner.”

  42. Fred Deutsch 2017-07-05 19:20

    Porter, every time I have a debate with you it’s like have a debate with a tree. It goes nowhere and serves no purpose. I invest my time where it does the most good.

  43. jerry 2017-07-05 19:36

    And more importantly, Felix got the money to stimulate the economy here. I think it is good. Here is the end to a love story of 41 years when the wife gets cancer and is about to die. They go out together and fly to their end. Beautiful.

    Everyone has to go sometime, when it comes my time, I hope to go with ease. But if there is a long term problem, then let me put myself down. I would do the same for a sick animal and that is exactly what I would be. That is the farthest thing from being selfish there is. It is not like asking for a hooker, as that would be to much to ask for. Lighten up Fred, don’t be spooked. Why should we give a hoot about Francesca, she knew Felix was a rounder when she met him.

  44. grudznick 2017-07-05 19:45

    I note 3 things about Mr. Deutsch’s interesting story:

    1. grudznick bestows, admiringly, the award for the most prolific use of the word “grunt” to Mr. Deutsch’s blogging
    2. the death certificate should have read “choked on own vomit” and not “cancer”
    3. Mr. Deutsch got Mr. Lansing’s goat and gave it a haircut

  45. Kristi 2017-07-05 19:56

    Frankly I think Mr. Deutsch is the goat. It is religion pure and simple for him. History does repeat itself.

  46. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 20:00

    Fred, I think “fails miserably”, like “expands the death penalty”, is unnecessary, polemic hyperbole. The statute exists with this same language in Washington State. I’m still waiting for evidence that it has “failed miserably” because of the specific language in question—i.e., for an example of anyone “speaking for” a terminally ill patient and putting that patient to death against that patient’s clearly expressed wishes.

    We don’t have to deal in hypothetical Uncle Charlies. Show me some real examples.

  47. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 20:06

    Bear, I remain unsure about the application of power of attorney here, though you’re pulling me toward your understanding. Are there any statutes to which power of attorney cannot apply? Are there any rights that supersede power of attorney?

    I’m trying to figure out if there is any right implicated in this law that would prohibit a third party from invoking power of attorney to make all of the requests required by this law without any cotemporaneous expression of will from the patient.

  48. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-05 20:15

    As I review the full thread, it appears the only empirical data I get is from Porter, who shows some patients who wanted to use this law, and Angie, who points out the apparent absence of examples of abuse of this law in Washington and Oregon. If this law is “poorly developed” and has “misleading language” that fails to “protect society,” we should be seeing damage to society in Washington and Oregon in the form of stories like Deutch’s fable about “Uncle Charlie.”

    I understand the concern. I’m looking for evidence that this concern is coming to fruition in places that have adopted the law we are discussing.

  49. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 20:19

    Mr. Deutsch. With all the respect you granted me, may I say … You feel our debates go nowhere because you think about yourself and I think about the audience and what is helpful for the most people. Much like your political party thinks.

  50. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 20:50

    Just as background, I spent most of last year picking apart the lame arguments of Margaret Dore as she fought a losing battle on this issue in Colorado. I guess she’s making a comeback in a Red or Dead State, this cycle. (GOOGLE – Margaret Dore in Colorado and you’ll see her whole year of arguments. She’s taught Deutsch and neither one have anything new to assert.)

  51. Porter Lansing 2017-07-05 22:04

    PS … Fred Deutsch is a chiropractor and he says assisted suicide patients choke to death on their own vomit? That’s either why chiropractors aren’t medical doctors or he’s just lying to scare you. Which do you think it is?
    In Oregon, the most commonly prescribed drug is a barbiturate called secobarbital; pentobarbital is also used. Doctors also prescribe an anti-nausea drug, which is taken about an hour beforehand, to stop the patient from vomiting the barbiturate before it takes effect. Sometimes morphine is used instead of barbiturates.
    I come from a family of hospice people, Mr. Deutsch. Shame on you. If you had an MD license it would be suspended.

  52. Jenny 2017-07-06 06:38

    Fred is just another anti-LGBT hating pub, Porter. SD is overflowing with them. He started that transgender hate bill a couple years ago,and you’re right, chiropractors aren’t doctors.
    Fred writes “I invest my time where it does the most good.”
    Not true, Fred. Any person that spreads discrimination and hate about a certain group of people should not be trusted and is not doing good to society.

  53. Porter Lansing 2017-07-06 07:23

    It’s sad, Jenny. Someone who spreads malicious lies about sick people to justify his religion’s politics.WOW. It would be easy to say chiropractors put people in wheelchairs through manipulation but it would be exaggerated just like he’s doing. Let’s all take the high road on a hundred degree day. I’m going to the ballpark, sitting in the shade and rooting for the home team. 😊 ⚾️ 🌭

  54. bearcreekbat 2017-07-06 14:43

    Cory, the POA question is interesting. Only competent individuals may issues POAs. A regular POA is valid only so long as the grantor remains competent. If a grantor becomes incompetent the regular POA ends.

    A durable POA, however, is valid during competency and remains valid after the grantor becomes incompetent. These are used for a variety of reasons, including for health care and end of life decisions.

    A springing POA only comes into effect if and when the grantor becomes incompetent (usually due to an unexpected accident), and can be used to make heath care or end of life decisions.

    I believe the statutory regulation of POAs is primarily in Title 59 (Agency), although there are other statutes in other sections of the code that mention or address the effect of a POA on particular transactions.

    Since the death with dignity proposal requires competency for the decision, the question arises – when can (or must) I make the decision? Section 2 seems to preclude any such decision before contracting a terminal illness. Thus, one must be both competent and terminally ill at the time of the request. My guess is that would seem to eliminate the use of a springing POA, or a living will type document, but could permit the use of a regular POA or a durable POA so long as the request is made before the onset of incompetency.

  55. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-07 07:10

    Bear, given what you’re telling me, I’m willing to accept that POA could be used by an authorized third-party to make the requests required under the DWD act as surely as POA can be used under any other law. But if that’s the case, it’s not DWD that allows others to “speak for” a patient; it’s POA.

    But even if a person with POA decides to end the life of a terminally person in his care, the doctor can still refuse. So when Dore and Deutsch put their posters up all over the state saying DWD allows greedy heirs to “speak for” Grandma and kill her, they have to point to the Section 1 “competency” definition and make the argument that interpreters will trick doctors.

  56. bearcreekbat 2017-07-07 11:46

    Cory, I think you are correct – there is probably more fear mongering than reality in the arguments about heirs being able to put grandma to sleep for her money. And since grandma can revoke a POA anytime, I doubt that she would put up with the heirs shenanigans if she actually is competent.

  57. Porter Lansing 2017-07-07 12:07

    Colorado lawmakers tucked $44,000 into the budget, during the legislative session that ended in May, to help inform doctors with patients who might ask about the new law regarding Death With Dignity and pursue the option.
    “It was like a horror movie,” she says, recalling the tumors all over his neck. They would fill with blood, she says, and sometimes burst. There was often blood all over the floor and walls. He was in continual agony and it broke my heart. He demanded the solution.”
    He swallowed the pills. Then she crawled into bed with him and held him and talked to him for the next six hours.
    “And he literally died in my arms. I was holding him when he stopped breathing. And it was really peaceful. He just sort of drifted away.”
    Her husband’s death was calm and peaceful and exactly what he’d asked for.

  58. Margaret Dore 2017-07-07 17:01

    Hi Cory,

    I don’t disagree that a power of attorney could be used to make a request under the proposed initiative. So we both agree that someone else can make the request (speak or write) for the patient, right?

    Maybe you don’t know this, but powers of attorney are notorious for abuse. Please see three resources below.

    Please contact me with any questions or concerns.


    # 1

    Financial scams targeting seniors are common. Disturbingly, a growing number of these scams involve family members, relatives, or friends who steal money from an elder when the elder grants them a financial power of attorney. In these power of attorney scams, the family member or friend often claims the money was taken for safekeeping because the elder was senile or needed to be protected from making bad financial decisions. The elder may lose their home, nest egg, or other money and property through power of attorney scams.

    #2 American Bar Association (ABA) Durable Power of Attorney Abuse: A National Center on Elder Abuse Fact Sheet for Consumers

    #3 From Canada: “Vulture Generation ”

  59. bearcreekbat 2017-07-07 18:41

    Margaret’s links are excellent and are well worth the read before granting anyone a POA of any kind.

    But some clarification as to your topic -DWD – is in order. The links suggest that POA abuse, typically under durable POA’s or springing POAs, occurs after the granter has become incompetent. The abuse is much more difficulty if the grantor is actually competent.

    Since it appears that only the holder of a POA during the grantor’s competency may be involved in a DWD decision, the problems identified by the ABA in the links would be rare. And such conduct is not authorized, nor made easier to commit, in any way, manner or form, by the DWD proposal.

  60. Kristi 2017-07-07 18:49

    Margaret Dore, please describe the dog you have in this fight. What is the motivation for your desire to be the 3rd seat in the physician’s office as he talks with his patient. This is the midwest. I might be old school but we are an honest society (for the most part). But skepticism is natural no matter where you are from. What is the financial motivation for your willingness to push your agenda on us? Just curious.

  61. Bob Newland 2017-07-07 21:18

    Fred Doosh, you are a spooky little creep.

  62. mike from iowa 2017-07-08 07:29

    From what I have seen so far, Fred D, you aren’t debating Porter, you are being schooled by Porter.

  63. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-08 11:01

    There! Bear is helping us get to the core of this particular complaint. Power of Attorney is the real and non-unique danger here. POA allows a bad actor to abuse pretty much any law on the books to the exploitation and detriment of an elderly, vulnerable family member. So complaints about laws letting people “speak for” someone else are better focused on power of attorney, not on this specific proposal.

    One might as well complain that the medical marijuana measure allows people to “speak for” someone else: arguably, someone with power of attorney could use that power to ask a doctor to prescribe pot to an ailing, incommunicative elderly relative, just to obtain pot for his own use.

  64. Margaret Dore 2017-07-08 21:05

    Hi Bearcreekbat

    Below is my response to your response, which I quote here:

    “Margaret’s links are excellent and are well worth the read before granting anyone a POA of any kind.

    But some clarification as to your topic -DWD – is in order. The links suggest that POA abuse, typically under durable POA’s or springing POAs, occurs after the granter has become incompetent. The abuse is much more difficulty if the grantor is actually competent.

    Since it appears that only the holder of a POA during the grantor’s competency may be involved in a DWD decision, the problems identified by the ABA in the links would be rare. And such conduct is not authorized, nor made easier to commit, in any way, manner or form, by the DWD proposal.”

    I (Margaret) have three points in response:

    1. Where in the initiated measure does it say that only the holder of a POA during the grantor’s competency may be involved in a DWD decision? I just did a word search of the initiated measure and the terms “power of attorney” and “POA” are not there. See Initiated measure at

    2. The measure has a mandatory definition of “competency,” which includes allowing someone else to communicate for the patient. The communicating person is not required to be a person designated by the patient or even known by the patient. The communicating person is instead required to be “familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating.”

    The measure states:

    “Terms used in this Act mean: . . .

    “Competency,” . . . a patient’s ability to make and communicate an informed decision to health care providers, including communication through persons familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating if those persons are available.

    Initiated measure, sec 1(2), available at

    3. With no requirement that the communicating person be designated or even known by the patient, the patient is not in control of his or her fate. His or her autonomy, choice or whatever you want to call it is allowed to be in the hands of someone else. You may find this link of interest:

    Juan Carlos Benedetto, “Four days after the election, an adult child of one of our clients asked about getting the pills (to kill [his] father). It wasn’t the father saying that he wanted to die.”

    Thank you for writing me.


  65. Margaret Dore 2017-07-10 23:29

    Hi Kristi,

    In answer to your question, I am not being paid.

    I live in a state where we have a similar law and it’s not what it’s sold to be.

    You might be interested in this letter by a young girl, also from Washington State:

    I am a high school student in Washington state, where assisted suicide is legal….

    I am writing to tell you about how older people are at risk in Washington, from doctors and hospitals. I will also talk about how attitudes about older people have changed for the worse. This is especially true since our assisted-suicide law was passed in 2008….

    Please feel free to contact me.

    Margaret Dore

  66. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-11 11:09

    The girl’s letter provides no empirical evidence of the main points of contention here, that the Washington law has allowed third parties to “speak for” a terminally ill patient and secure life-ending drugs from a doctor or that the definition of “self-administer” in Washington law has allowed any third party to administer life-ending drugs to a terminally ill patient.

  67. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-07-11 17:21

    The problem there, Mike, is POA. I see no invocation of a DWD law, no empirical example to substantiate the claims being lodged against this initiative.

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