Suicide Kit Ban Approved by Oregon House

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Hydorn was sure to look into the legal side of things before starting her mail-order business by making sure that she would not be implicated in any potential legal woes.

"The attorney told me, 'You're just the bag lady,'" she said. "So long as I'm not present when death occurs, and I'm not telling them to shut up and pull the bag down already, I am not accountable."

Hydorn Meets Humphry

Three years after her husband's death, Hydorn met Derek Humphry, author of "Final Exit" and founder of the right-to-die organization, the Hemlock Society. Hydorn believed in Humphry's mission and began to volunteer, and ultimately became a board member, for the organization.

"I assume her purpose is Kevorkian-like -- to help people with terminal illness feel empowered," said Dr. Ken Robbins, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin and director of psychiatry at Stoughton Hospital nearby.

But even if a person believes assisted suicide is ethical, Robbins said it is essential for a clinician to thoroughly screen patients to be sure they are not suicidal because of depression.

"You have to make sure they don't want to end their life because they are depressed because depression is treatable," Robbins said. "If the person goes through a good evaluation with a clinician, it's not that hard to decipher."

"If they have depression that is temporary due to the illness, or from the mental condition itself, part of the symptom is to feel hopeless," Robbins said. "People have to know that it will get better through treatment.

"For people in emotional pain, I don't know how anyone could argue that it is ethically appropriate to help them commit suicide," he said.

Hydorn said people call or write to her to request a kit, which includes a customized plastic bag and a tube intended to be connected to a tank of inert gas. Customers often provide little detail of their intentions. They usually tell her their name, the number of desired kits and the address where they'd like the kit to be sent. They enclose a check for the appropriate amount and sometimes include extra postage if they want the package delivered overnight or sent internationally.

Hydorn said she has received requests for kits from all over the world.

No Screening, No Follow-Up

After hearing of Klonoski's death, Hydorn said she went through her invoices to see whether she could find his written request. She could not find a letter from the name, Klonoski, but she did find a correspondence with an unclear recipient and address.

"It was a P.O. box," she said. "People can really give me any name they want. It could be Joe Blow and I wouldn't know the difference. I just have to trust people."

But Prozanski's office said the box sent to Klonoski, which was retrieved after his death, had his full name and home address written on the package. Hydorn's company, the Gladd Group, was clearly labeled as the sender of the package.

Hydorn also said that the Daily Beast insinuated that, along with her kit, she sends the recipient a copy of "Final Exit," the how-to handbook for terminally ill people who wish to end their lives, written by Humphry. Hydorn said she does not sell the book, but Humphry told her that Klonoski had bought the book more than a year before he ended his life. Hydorn said many of her clients are referred by Humphry.

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