New Washington “No on I-1000” Ad Features Woman Who Was Offered Assisted Suicide by Insurance Compan
By Jonquil Frankham
WASHINGTON, October 28, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new television ad in Washington State shows footage of an interview with a recently deceased Oregon woman whose insurance company said it would pay for the drugs with which she could kill herself, but not for a potentially helpful treatment (See: http://www.noassistedsuicide.com/)
Barbara Ann Wagner was refused insurance coverage for the drugs that her doctor recommended to help treat her cancer. Instead she was sent a letter from her insurance company that offered to pay for a lethal dose of “medication.”
After Wagner’s story went public, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the potentially helpful drugs stepped forward and offered the treatment for free. Tragically, Wagner passed away from cancer on October 18, but, as the anti-euthanasia ad says, left a “final message.”
“They will pay to kill me but they will not give me the medication to try to stop the growth of the cancer,” says a tearful Wagner in the ad, who then urges: “People of Washington, don’t vote this (I-1000) in.”
Initiative 1000, a proposal that will be put before Washington citizens this November 4, is modeled upon Oregon’s now infamous “Death with Dignity Act,” which was passed in 1994.
Critics of the Washington proposal, however, say that abuses of the assisted suicide law in Oregon are many and frightening and should serve as a warning to Washington residents. For instance, the No on I-1000 campaign points out that the Oregon law leaves open the possibility of "doctor shopping," in which people who wish to commit suicide try multiple doctors until they find one willing to prescribe the lethal dose of drugs. They also point out that people who are depressed, and therefore incapable of making a clear decision, have been prescribed the drugs in order to commit suicide.
In one case that illustrates another form of abuse of the Oregon law, Wendy Melcher was administered a lethal dose of morphine by two nurses who claimed she had asked for assisted suicide. The nurses, who did not inform the woman’s physician of their intention, were acting against Oregon Law; despite this fact, however, they have never faced charges. Oregon nurses were also involved in five other illegal administrations of lethal doses of medication. None have been prosecuted, reports the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.
I-1000 is reportedly more loosely worded than Oregon’s, with the Coalition arguing that it irresponsibly leaves physician reports secret, untraceable, and written according to an “honor system.” The Coalition says that this leaves the physicians unaccountable on a matter that is too open to abuse. The law also requires a physician to falsify death certificates, attributing assisted suicide deaths to “natural causes,” meaning that families of patients might never know how their loved ones died.
This secrecy, writes the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, means “vital statistics could not be used to track assisted suicide.”
Chris Carlson, voluntary chair of the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, told LifeSiteNews that he places a good deal of faith in the Coalition’s two new ads, one of which features celebrity Martin Sheen, while the other features Wagner.
When asked what the campaign’s prospects are, Carlson told LifeSiteNews, “It’s going to be very close.”
The law’s proponents, said Carlson, have “amassed a ‘warchest’ three times what we have been able to.” Their television ads will “easily double ours.”
Carlson also mentioned that he disagreed with the measure coming before voters in the form of a ballot proposal in the first place. The “terribly flawed” proposal “shouldn’t be decided by initiative,” said Carlson. “[It’s] complicated … and should go through legislative scrutiny.”
To see the new ad, or to support the No on I-1000 campaign, go to: http://www.noassistedsuicide.com/