Human Exceptionalism

Final Exit Network “Ring” of Suicide Assisters Arrested

The Final Exit Network is dedicated to assisted suicide. More honestly than some in the euthanasia movement, its members openly acknowledge that the “ultimate civil liberty” should not be limited to the terminally ill.

It has long been suspected that some members of the FEN are not willing to wait until the law changes to assist in suicides. Some old time SHSers may recall the case in Phoenix in which it seemed pretty clear that a FEN member helped assist the suicide of a woman with a mental illness.

Nothing came of that case in terms of criminal culpability, but now some arrests have been made in a series of assisted suicides in several states. From the story:

Four members of an alleged assisted suicide ring were charged Wednesday with helping a 58-year-old Georgia man end his life, and investigators in eight other states were looking into whether the group was involved in more deaths.

The FBI is also probing the Final Exit Network, an organization whose Web site said it is “dedicated to serving people who are suffering from an intolerable condition.” It wasn’t immediately clear how many deaths were being investigated. On Wednesday, investigators raided the homes of the group’s volunteers in seven of the states, a group office in Georgia and a company in Montana that authorities said supplied items used in suicides, according to a news release from authorities in Arizona, where another death was being investigated…The four were charged with assisted suicide, tampering with evidence and a violation of Georgia’s anti-racketeering act.

The victim’s mother says her son was depressed but if he had the “courage” to kill himself with help, she doesn’t want to see any arrests.

Well, it isn’t up to her. I know other cases apparently involving the FEN in which bereaved family members were horrified at what happened and yearned to see justice done.

When we ponder this matter, I think it is important to understand that people who are this deeply involved in helping make other people dead are what I call “death fundamentalists,” that is, they are not just selfless altruists, but act on a deep ideological belief and an odd form of twisted desire. Lest you think that judgment harsh, allow me to quote from A Chosen Death, written by Lonny Shavelson, who is pro assisted suicide and observed “Sarah” from the Hemlock Society as she plied her trade. On page 75, she tells Shavelson that after assisting her first suicide of a good friend, she came to relish–one is tempted to say “get off”–on the experience:

I firmly believe now that the most intimate moment you can share with a person is their death. More than sex. More than birth. More than anything. I was at the deliveries of my four grandchildren, and my experience with Naomi’s death was above that.

Later in the book, Sarah murders “Gene,” who tries to back out of his assisted suicide after swallowing the poisonous concoction Sarah prepared, but is prevented by Sarah who brutally holds a plastic bag around his head as she croons, “The light Gene, go toward the light.” As I noted in Forced Exit, Shavelson writes of witnessing this involuntary killing, but did nothing to stop it and never called police.

So, let’s see where this case leads. If they did the deed or deeds, I hope the judge throws the book at them. But don’t count on serious punishment. The idea of suicide as a “necessity” for people in difficult circumstances is gaining traction, putting the most vulnerable among us at a terrible risk.

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