Right-to-die groups use clients for self-promotion

From free speech to the right to remain silent, Americans hold on to the core set of freedoms that define the country. Recently, the nation has begun to throw the “right to die” into the conversation and third-party organizations are jumping on this bandwagon, advocating for self-promotion instead of an individual's rights.

On Jan. 14, New Mexico judges ruled that doctors can assist terminally ill patients who wish to end their life. In the U.S., only four other states (Oregon, Vermont, Montana and Washington) legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In Arizona, assisted suicide is illegal and punishable by law. Those involved can be charged with manslaughter, even though the final act is left in the hands of the patients. While there is a clear legal precedent for physicians to assist terminally-ill patients, the water is more murky when third-party organizations put the proverbial gun in clients' hands. These organizations, instead of allowing people to make their own private choices, put suicide on the national stage.

A number of organizations have been created to “help” individuals with the choice of life versus death, such as Final Exit Network and Death with Dignity. These groups also advocate for nationwide acceptance of assisted suicide, supporting death with dignity legislature.

The Final Exit Network walks its clients through an “exit guide” and, after a fee, provides the means to commit suicide but leave the deed in the hands of individual.

Final Exit Network members vigorously deny that they help people commit suicide. They shun the s-word, preferring instead to call it self-deliverance,” said Jaime Joyce in a contribution to Buzzfeed.

Joyce discloses the death of Phoenix native Jana Van Voorhis, who took her own life, with the help of Final Exit assistants. An exit doctor, who had never met Van Voorhis and would have never known if she was mentally fit, approved her case and two representatives flew to Phoenix, walked her through a process that would suffocate her with helium and left. The two informed no family, leaving many heartbroken when they discovered her days later.

These organizations pride themselves on their efforts to provide rights to the nation, yet they ultimately strip the choice through their selfish desires to expand. The more individuals who commit suicide and show their support in these groups, the better their cause looks. Add in a financial incentive, and these nonprofit organizations have lost the vision of their so-called right-to-die “mission.”

At the end of the day, life is a personal choice that should remain private, not a public show to gain followers. Doctors who understand an individual’s medical history should be in the conversation, not third parties gunning for public support for their cause.

Assisted suicide is a sticky matter that is spreading across not only the U.S., but also numerous countries around the world. As the right-to-die movement continues to develop, we can't rely on outside organizations who dance around the law for their own benefit to accurately define the right to life individuals are seeking.


Reach the columnist at rsmouse@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @BeccaSmouse

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