By Hilary White

OLYMPIA, Washington, US, September 24, 2008 ( ) – The Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund is pulling out all the financial stops to push the passage of Washington State’s “death with dignity” ballot initiative this November. The group has promised to match all donations to the “Yes on 1000” campaign in Washington State up to $1 million. The funds will go to create a media campaign with television spots promoting the message of “safe” doctor-assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg executive director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has asked supporters to donate to the Washington Coalition Against Assisted Suicide to help counter the pro-euthanasia advertising campaign.

“We cannot allow the euthanasia lobby to brainwash the public by running television commercials without a counter-point-of-view,” he said in an email. Anti-euthanasia campaigners fear that should the Washington state initiative pass, there will be a “wild-fire response” of other state initiatives to legalize assisted suicide “everywhere.”
  Initiative 1000 would legalize assisted suicide, permitting a doctor to give a lethal overdose to a patient if the doctor feels that the patient is likely to die within six months.

In their appeal for funds to promote the message of euthanasia, Oregon Death with Dignity said they have thus far “experienced phenomenal success.” “Every piece of the campaign has fallen into place, and we are on the brink of victory on November 4.”

Pressure is increasing on disabled people and the terminally ill to commit suicide, particularly with the rationing of health care services in nationalised health systems. In the UK recently, Baroness Helen Warnock, Britain’s most prominent moral philosopher, said that people with severe disabilities have a “duty” to commit suicide to reduce the strain on the publicly funded health system and the burden on families.

Opponents of euthanasia are warning that I-1000 is just the thin edge of the wedge for legalising euthanasia and undermining the legal protections for vulnerable patients. The Washington State Conference of  Catholic Bishops warns that the initiative proposes “a fundamental change in civil law” that reduces the value of human life to its “usefulness” in utilitarian terms.

The Washington bishops said the initiative, should it pass, would reverse “a longstanding social belief that considers suicide a tragedy.” “As Catholics we believe that a caring society assists persons with terminal illnesses, and their loved ones, to live as fully as possible the time they have left together,” the bishops said.

In addition to the Catholic Church, the initiative is opposed by a long list of advocacy groups, including those who work closely with the dying: the Washington State Medical Association; the Washington Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; the American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today; the American Association of People with Disabilities; the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; Justice for All; the National Council on Disability; the National Spinal Cord Injury Association; the World Association of Persons with Disabilities and the World Institute on Disability.

Schadenberg said, “We absolutely need people and organizations … to give to the Washington Coalition Against Assisted Suicide. I am not a great beggar for money but there has never been a more important time, than today, to make a large donation to stop the forward progression of the culture of death.”

To contact the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide:
  P.O. Box 11794,
  Olympia Washington, USA
  Phone (206) 337-2091

To contribute financially:


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