Human Exceptionalism

A Case of Suicide Tourism in Oregon?

A story in the San Francisco Chronicle today inadvertently disclosed what may be a case of assisted suicide tourism in Oregon. The story is about a pagan memorial service for a woman named Heather MacAllister, who was notable locally for promoting fat burlesque. (Remember, this is San Francisco.) Here is what caught my eye: “On what would have been MacAllister’s 38th birthday, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community gathered to say goodbye to the performer and activist who ended her life Feb. 13 in Portland, Ore., through assisted suicide after a battle with ovarian cancer…MacAllister, a Michigan native, moved to San Francisco in 2005 to create the Big Burlesque and Fat Bottom Revue, featuring and celebrating large women.” No indication she ever moved to Oregon.

If she was not a resident of Oregon, the assisted suicide was illegal there. But the state’s regulators would almost certainly never find out about it since virtually all they know about individual assisted suicides comes from information supplied by the death doctors, who would almost certainly not disclose that they assisted the suicide of a non resident. And even if the state regulators were informed, they don’t have the authority to investigate. All they could do is refer it to a district attorney, who, if past irregularities that have come to light in Oregon are any indication, would not give the matter a high law enforcement priority.

The residence requirement “safeguard” in Oregon is a total joke, of course. If I wanted to become a resident of Oregon today, all I would have to do is fly there, take out a motel room, and claim Oregon as my home.

I am going to see if I can find out more about this. But even if my suspicions are right, don’t expect the Oregon authorities to do anything. The entire program there is run on the principle of hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. The guidelines aren’t actually intended to protect, but merely give false assurance.

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