Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Compassion & Choices is a successor organization to the Hemlock Society"

I am a lawyer in Washington State where assisted-suicide is legal. Robert Zimorino’s letter encourages readers to contact Compassion & Choices, a promoter of assisted-suicide (“aid in dying”).
Your readers should know that Compassion & Choices is a successor organization to the Hemlock Society, originally formed by Derek Humphry. In 2011, Humphry was the keynote speaker at Compassion & Choices’ annual meeting here in Washington State.  In 2011, he was also in the news as a promoter of mail-order suicide kits from a company now shut down by the FBI.This was after a 29 year old man used one of the kits to commit suicide.

In 2007, Compassion & Choices was a plaintiff in Montana’s assisted-suicide case. Therein, Compassion & Choices requested legalization of assisted-suicide for “terminally ill adult patients.” The definition of this phrase was broad enough to include an otherwise healthy 18 year old who is insulin dependent or a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS. Such persons can live for decades with appropriate medical treatment.

Once someone is labeled “terminal,” an easy justification can be made that their treatment should be denied in favor of someone more deserving. Those who believe that legalizing assisted-suicide will promote free choice may discover that it does anything but.
Supporting authority not included in the published letter, below:
1.  This is a link to Compassion & Choices' newsletter announcing that Humphry would be the keynote speaker at its annual meeting in Washington State on October 22, 2012:  This is an excerpt from Oregon's Register-Guard newspaper:
"A spotlight was cast on the mail-order suicide kit business after a 29-year-old Eugene man committed suicide in December using a helium hood kit.  The Register-Guard traced the $60 kit to [the company, which] has no website and does no advertising; clients find [the] address through the writings of Humphry."

3.  Here is a link to my opinion letter with Richard Wonderly MD  analyzing Compassion & Choices' definition of "terminally ill adult patient."