Euthanasia Billboards, Books Fight for Death on Your Own Terms

"Anytime you have someone assisting another person in death, there's so many psychological influences that can come into play," Tim Rosales, spokesman for Californians Against Assisted Suicide says. "There are many times that people with serious illness have suicidal thoughts. That doesn't mean that that's the answer for them. They need to overcome those thoughts, but these [advocacy groups] take advantage of people in this tenuous state."

"Troubled youth, people who are depressed or going through a tough time in their life -- this type of activity preys upon those people in society," he says.

Not all right-to-die organizations agree with Final Exit's outside-the-law approach. Kavanaugh says the network was founded in 2004 by members who disagreed with the legal approach taken by another prominent advocacy group, Compassion and Choices.

Compassion and Choices is a large organization (40,000 members compared with Final Exit Network's 3,000) that fights for a legal framework to support assisted dying as a medical service for the terminally ill who wish to avoid undue suffering. They see it as a logical extension of end-of-life care in medicine today.

"We consider it our responsibility to follow the letter of the law in order to demonstrate that this is a safe, legal and rare, medical practice," says organization spokesman Steven Hopcraft.

"We focus on making it legal and helping people exercise their legal options."

The Right to Die as Policy

Helping a terminally ill patient die sent Dr. Jack Kavorkian to jail nearly a decade ago, but the how-to guides on suicide offered by some of today's right-to-die advocates are walking a fine line between freedom of speech and illegally "assisting" in suicide.

Final Exit currently faces charges of assisting suicide in Georgia and Arizona.

"We're on the edge of the law," Kavanaugh says. "What constitutes assisting is not very well-defined. If it is just providing information and support, than we are in trouble, but usually it means physically assisting or supplying the means."

Because Final Exit provides only information and support, it is considering filing a First Amendment lawsuit against Georgia and Arizona, Kavanaugh says.

As for the billboards, critics like Rosales are not too worried.

"We think it highlights the organization and their devious intentions. The more the public finds out what they're doing, the more it will naturally turn them against the organization. Quite frankly, they're hurting themselves."

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