Suicide Kit Ban Approved by Oregon House

Senate already approved similar bill; state allows doctor-assisted suicide.

ByABC News
June 13, 2011, 8:41 PM

June 13, 2011— -- The Oregon House today overwhelmingly approved a ban on the sale or marketing of suicide kits, a month after senators voted unanimously for a similar bill.

The bill, which was passed by the House 52-6, will be returned to the Senate so any changes made can be approved before it goes to the governor for signing.

The bills were presented after a 29-year-old Oregonian named Nick Klonoski used a suicide kit to end his life in December. Klonoski ordered the simple kit, which contained a hood and tube, through the mail.

"After learning of a young man who took his life using a helium hood he bought, it became obvious that there were no checks and balances of marketing suicide kits," said State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who sponsored the bill in the senate. "Minors had access to the kits through the Internet, and I personally don't believe we need to be marketing an object like a suicide kit."

Prozanski said that he supports assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill and have been counseled on ending their life, but not for young people who are depressed but otherwise physically healthy.

The Daily Beast reported that Klonoski was not terminally ill, and would not have qualified for lethal prescriptions available to eligible Oregon residents under the Death with Dignity Act. Oregon is one of three states in which assisted suicide is legal.

"Any kid who suffers from depression after losing their first boyfriend or girlfriend and thinking the world is over has access to this right now," Prozanski said.

When Klonoski received his suicide package in the mail, it might have been anything: a simple white box decorated with a butterfly. But inside were the simple tools he would use to end his life.

And even after Klonoski reportedly used one of Sharlotte Hydorn's homemade suicide kits to end his life in December, the 91-year-old entrepreneur said she makes no apologies for his death.

"I cannot take all the sadness of the world on my shoulders," Hydorn said from her home in La Mesa, Calif. "I feel so sorry for the mama, but I'm not at fault. That's his choice, not my choice."

While Hydorn believes she's "making the world better" by selling the kits to people who want to end their life, she took the news of the Oregon bill in stride.

"If I never sell anymore kits there, that's fine," Hydorn said. "Oregon is Oregon, and they can do as they please.

"Since this bill came out, I've received many many orders from Oregon," she said. "They haven't benefited themselves, and now people are stocking up before the law closes on them."

Hydorn said the homemade kits, which she has been selling for four years, are intended to assist the death of those who are terminally or in severe chronic pain. But anyone can request the $60 kit, and she does not screen her clients before sending out the device.

Business doubled after Klonoski's death made headlines, according to Hydorn, and she plans on continuing to grow her small company.

Hydorn first became interested in assisted suicide after watching metastatic colon cancer take over her husband's body in 1977. He died in the hospital, instead of at home, where Hydorn said he belonged.

"It's always been in my mind that people should have the right to die at home with a family around them, not in a strange place surrounded by strangers," she said.