Human Exceptionalism

Final Exit Network Activist Pleads Guilty to Assisted Suicide of Mentally Ill Woman

The pretense that the minions who participate in the Final Exit Network are mere counselors–rather than mobile assisted suicide clinics–was shattered in Phoenix when one facilitator pleaded guilty to assisting the suicide of a mentally ill woman.  From the story:

Readers may remember our story on the so-called “assisted case” of Jana Van Voorhis, a 58-year-old Phoenix woman who died mysteriously in her bed in the spring of 2007. It was a particularly sad and bizarre yarn (even by our standards), and had a slew of dicey legal and ethical issues wrapped inside of it. One of our key interviews in the piece was with Wye Hale-Rowe, then 79, a retired family therapist and great-grandmother who now lives in Michigan. She was then was a volunteer for the Final Exit Network, an offshoot of the now-defunct Hemlock Society [actually, Compassion and Choices]…

In striking a plea deal with county prosecutors, Hale-Rowe agreed to testify against the three remaining defendants in the case, an aged Scottsdale man who allegedly also assisted Van Voorhis in killing herself, and two senior Final Exit officials from out of state.  Hale-Rowe told us in 2007 that the late Van Voorhis “was in the throes of what we call existential suffering. Even though their physical pain may be managed, just being alive is a burden [to such people]. They’re not able to function much with reference to other people.” In other words, Van Voorhis suffered from a serious mental illness, not debilitating physical illness.

I think it is worth pointing out that the logic of these ideologues is impeccable. Once you accept the belief that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering, assisting the suicides of the mentally ill–whose suffering is often far worse than those with physical illnesses–can become compelling. Indeed, just ask the Swiss and Dutch Supreme Courts, both of which have approved of assisting the suicides of those with mental illnesses, and in Switzerland’s case, made it a constitutional right.

Also, kudos to the Phoenix New Times, which broke the story of this assisted suicide several years ago, forcing it onto the prosecutor’s plate.  Some of the best journalism today is in the alternative media.

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