Human Exceptionalism

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I was first drawn into fighting assisted suicide when a depressed elderly friend committed suicide under the influence of Hemlock Society literature. Not only had the group’s suicide-porn given Frances moral permission to kill herself, but they had taught her precisely how to do it.

These kinds of needless deaths continue to occur. The decade of Jack Kevorkian; teenagers found dead next to Derek Humphry’s book Final Exit; the Final Exit Network, and its mobile assisted suicide clinics, accused of facilitating the suicide of a mentally ill woman in Phoenix, etc.

Well, here’s another one. A young woman is dead, part of a suicide pact in which Philip Nitschke’s book played a deadly part. From the story:

Jeff George Ostfeld and Jennifer Malone were drawn together in search of death. According to court testimony, Ostfeld was a 33-year-old unemployed, friendless loner living with his mother in Las Vegas, who had considered suicide himself.

Malone was an attractive 29-year-old real estate broker from Oregon who loved the outdoors and had recently moved to Florida. Court testimony says her bubbly, outgoing personality masked manic depression.Ostfeld told authorities he had been assisting Malone and did not seem to think he had done anything immoral.

On Sunday evening, Malone took an anti-nausea drug. She mixed the pentobarbital with yogurt to hide the bitter taste.

Authorities say Ostfeld consulted the Peaceful Pill Handbook about ending one’s life and suggested a rendezvous. Malone responded to that e-mail with a “wink wink,” indicating she was game, Ostfeld told federal investigators.

They met in an online forum for discussing tranquilizers earlier this month. A week ago they flew separately to South Texas. By Monday, Malone was dead in a motel room in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, and Ostfeld was in U.S. federal custody after trying to smuggle potent animal tranquilizers into the country.

Why is anyone surprised by this? It is a natural result of assisted suicide advocacy and a culture that is growing increasingly suicide friendly.

“Oh Wesley,” some will say, “assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill.” It isn’t, as we’ve repeatedly shown here, but beyond that, suffering people don’t put these matters into neat little boxes. Not only do media often celebrate the suicide outlaws–think Jack Kevorkian–but Oregon and Washington’s voters have declared suicide a proper response to difficulty. Law doesn’t just govern behavior, when something is legalized, society sends a subliminal message that the behavior is right.

So, we see that assisted suicide advocacy, and its desensitizing power are rightly accused of being a core constituency in the culture of death. Unfortunates like my friend Frances and Jennifer Malone are predictable casualties.

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