Thursday, May 14, 2015

An open letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee: Enactment of SB 128 could cost millions.

I was prepared to testify at the hearing on SB 128, but the opposition was only allowed two speakers and I would have been the third. Below, please find my prepared remarks:

* * * 

Chairman Lara and Members of the Committee:

Enactment of SB 128 will potentially cost California millions of dollars. I say this due to Oregon's experience with a similar law. SB 128 is modeled on that law.

I have prepared a memo with backup documentation, which supports what I'm saying. I have also provided you with individual tabbed copies.

I will be brief.

In Oregon, physician-assisted suicide has been legal for 17 years. Usage has been small, but steadily increasing. Last year, the highest year yet, there were 105 deaths.

In Oregon, this legalization and steady increase of physician-assisted suicides, is statistically correlated with an increase in other conventional suicides. This is consistent with a suicide contagion in which legalization and promotion of physician-assisted suicide has encouraged other conventional suicides.

Oregon's assisted suicide law was enacted in late 1997. By 2000, its conventional suicide rate was "increasing significantly." By 2007, its conventional suicide rate was 35% above the national average. As of the most recent report, for 2010, Oregon's conventional suicide rate was 41% above the national average.

The significance from a financial perspective is that conventional suicides can cost a lot of money. People don't always succeed and can be left injured or disabled, requiring hospitalization or long term care. Sometimes suicidal people take other people with them. An example, is "suicide by cop." This is when a suicidal person threatens the police or civilians in order to be killed by the police. At Tab 12 of my materials, there is an article about a school shooter, in California, who wanted to be killed by the police. At age 15, he killed two of his classmates and injured 13 others. Per the article, he is now incarcerated and will face his first parole hearing at age 65. A very expensive suicide indeed.

In Oregon, the cost of conventional suicides is now enormous. I've attached the most recent report for 2010 at Tab 15. It states:
In 2010 alone, self-inflicted injury hospitalization charges exceeded 41 million dollars; and the estimate of total lifetime cost in Oregon was over 680 million dollars.
This apparent suicide contagion makes sense when you look at what's been happening on the ground in Oregon. With physician-assisted suicide, legal and state sanctioned, there is a focused effort to promote it.

In my materials, I talk about two Oregon physician-assisted suicide cases: Lovelle Svart and Brittany Maynard. With Lovelle, Oregon's largest paper covered her suicide party. This included an on-line video of her actually taking the lethal dose. There were also photographs of her lying in bed, dying, which are still available on line. Such graphic coverage is a well known factor for suicide contagion. Meanwhile, Ms. Maynard's assisted suicide has been widely publicized in multiple media making her famous. Publicity about the suicide of a famous person is a recognized factor in suicide contagion. Think Marilyn Monroe.

In closing, I urge you to read my materials. This committee must vote "NO" unless the proponents of SB 128 can show that California will not have an increase in conventional suicides.  Otherwise, the financial cost could be "enormous."

Thank you.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA, President
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754