Tuesday, September 22, 2020

End of Life Choice Act Allows Nonvoluntary Death

Justice Mallon

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA* 

On June 16, 2020, Justice Jillian Mallon issued a judgment describing the End of Life Choice Act as limited to voluntary euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide. (Judgment, page 1). 

The Acthowever, also allows non-voluntary death. One reason is that assisted dying (euthanasia and assisted suicide) is described as being performed by a "medical practitioner." 

In practice, medical practitioners are allowed to provide medical treatment on a non-voluntary basis. For a common example, consider automobile accidents. Medical practitioners are allowed to treat accident victims on a non-voluntary basis if circumstances are determined to warrant such action. If the patient is unconscious and unable to give consent, medical treatment determined necessary by medical practitioners is nonetheless allowed to go forward.

The Act describes medical practitioners and other persons who act in "accordance" with the Act, as being immune from liability.[1] The Act does not define accordancePer standard statutory interpretation, the meaning of an undefined term can be gleaned from other sources, with dictionary definitions being a common source.

Dictionary definitions of accordance include "in the spirit of," meaning "in thought or intention."[2] Per this language, a thought or intention to follow the Act is enough for a medical practitioner or other person to be in compliance with the Act. Actual compliance is not required.

In the event the Act is voted into effect, medical practitioners and other persons will merely be required to act in the spirit of the Act. Strict compliance, for example, with patient protections, will not be necessary. More to the point, the Act will allow non-voluntary death.


[1]  The Act, Sections 37 and 38. 
[2]  See definitions here and here


* Margaret Dore is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice law in Washington State, USA, with more than 30 years experience. She is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and Washington State Court of Appeals. Her published decisions include Lawrence v Lawrence, a family law case featured in the ABA (American Bar Association) Journal, thereby giving her work national recognition. 

Dore has personally lobbied and/or testified against assisted suicide and euthanasia in at least 20 US states and also internationally. In 2016, her affidavit was given credit for the defeat of euthanasia in a South African court case. 

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