I am a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. I disagree with Tom Preston’s rosy description of our assisted suicide law. (“Dignified death doc to speak at Northern,” Page 1 in Friday's Havre Daily News).
Washington’s law was passed via an initiative in which voters were promised that their “choice” would be assured. Our act, however, has significant gaps so that patient choice is not assured.
For example, no witnesses are required at the death. Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for someone to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who would know?
Washington is also a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” state. Required official forms and reports do not ask about or report on whether the patient consented at the time of death. Consent at the time of death is also not required by the language of the act itself. Once again and contrary to marketing rhetoric, patient “choice” is not assured.
For more information about assisted suicide generally, see my article “Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice,” online at www.margaretdore.com/pdf/Not_Legal_in_Idaho.pdf