Smith, Wesley J., The Human Life Review
[Wesley J. Smith, an attorney for the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force, is the author of Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder (Times Books). The following first appeared in the New York Post (November 26, 1999) and is reprinted with Mr. Smith's permission.]
Assisted suicide patriarch Derek Humphry was impressed with the suicide machines unveiled in Seattle on November 13, at the international "Self Deliverance New Technology Conference." He loved the demonstration on the use of helium and a garbage bag to commit suicide, a method that Humphry extols in his newest how-to-end-it-all video. But he was most delighted with a new suicide contraption called "the debreather," a device akin to a gas mask that sucks away life by removing oxygen from the air of the person wearing it.
Other assisted suicide movement notables were equally enthusiastic about the conference. Faye Girsh, the executive director of the Hemlock Society USA, called the meeting a "wonderful forum," and proclaimed herself deeply impressed by the "tremendous ingenuity" displayed by the inventors of the displayed death devices. Another notable attendee was Australian doctor Dr. Philip Nitschke-the DownUnder Kevorkian-who is presently in the midst of a U.S. assisted suicide-promotion speaking tour. At the conference, attendees thrilled to Nitschke's description of his pet project: the still uncompleted creation of a non-narcotic death pill that he calls the "Holy Grail."
As macabre and bizarre as this gathering was, it provided some badly needed truth in advertising about the assisted suicide movement. For years assisted suicide enthusiasts have desperately attempted to reposition themselves away from the nut fringe by creating the fiction that they are somehow promoting mainstream "medical" reform.
But as the Self Delivery Technology Conference clearly illustrated, assisted suicide isn't at all about health care or the proper treatment of illness or disability. Beneath the propaganda of compassion and the euphemisms for killing such as "aid in dying," assisted suicide is purely and simply about making people dead.
Indeed, like some slow-motion Heaven's Gate cult, death is the movement's overriding obsession. If you doubt this, ask yourself these questions: Is the "debreather" a medical device that should be licensed by the FDA? Is helium a palliative agent? Should the cost of garbage bags used in suicide be covered by health insurance? …