Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
A recent FOX 5 Special: Inside Final Exit Network examined some of the people the Final Exit Network had assisted suicides or planned to assist their suicide.
The first case was that of Kurt a 26-years-old, one Chicago man who has an incurable neurological disorder known as Charcot Marie Tooth or CMT. CMT is not fatal, but Kurt suffers from a rare form of the disease that causes severe respiratory problems which can make breathing feel more like suffocating.Kurt is not terminally ill, he is not dying, but he does have a significant disability. He needs support and help to live a full-life. He needs pain and symptom management for his chronic conditions, but he is not terminally ill.
Dr. Jerry Dinkin, a retired clinical psychologist and the current president of the Final Exit Network said:
the Final Exit Network limits its services only to those with terminal, irreversible or intolerable health problems. The group's president insisted exit guides only offered clients information and emotional support.The important point is that Dinkin does not limit assisted suicide to terminally ill victims but rather includes people with irreversible and intolerable health problems.
My friend Alison Davis who is a disability rights advocate in the UK and the leader of the group No Less Human, was born with irreversible and intolerable health problems. Does that mean that her life is not worth living. Those who have not read Alison's story need to know that Alison attempted suicide at a low point in her life. She is very happy that a member of the Final Exit Network didn't come and visit her.
People with disabilities realize how cults like the Final Exit Network will prey on people at the most vulnerable time of their life. We need to maintain laws against assisted suicide to protect us from the Final Exit Network types who insist that they are only offering freedom when they should be offering the freedom to live.
Becky Rumage Tuttle, a member of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet was right when she said to the Fox reporter.
"How can putting a plastic bag over your head with no air not be a horrible way to die? I don't buy it,"Link to the Fox Special - Inside Final Exit Network
Tuttle said groups like Final Exit Network do a disservice to disabled people who could benefit from therapy, medical advances or support groups.
"You're not just standing back and saying, 'I understand how you feel, it must be really tough right now,' they're saying, 'Here's a way out,'" said Tuttle.
Tuttle applauded the arrest of four Final Exit Network members in February on assisted suicide charges. The members are accused of helping 58-year-old John Celmer of Cumming take his own life in 2008.
"What options are they giving them if the sole purpose of their organization is to give the resources to end your life," asked Tuttle.
An article in the Arizona Daily Star casts further doubt on the concerns that the Final Exit Network had for their victims. The article by Earl Wettstein, the first president of the Final Exit Network refers to John Celmer, the man who had recovered from cancer and who's assisted suicide death led to the investigation into the Final Exit Network.
The man who killed himself had cancer of the throat, his jaw had been removed, he could not swallow and was facing two more major surgeries. He decided he no longer wanted to endure this.
The dead man's mother, 85, said her son had suffered from cancer of the throat for years. She said he was extremely depressed about his condition and the additional operations planned.
She said, "If they helped my son to die, I would never find them guilty for helping him."
But Wettstein's supposed quote from Celmer's mother does not represent the sentiment of Celmer's family.
In an interview with Sue Celmer, the widow of John Celmer who died by assisted suicide after the Final Exit Network members took advantage of his depression, she stated that:
The last year-and-a-half of her husband's life was difficult. John Celmer endured surgery and radiation to rid him of oral cancer. That left him with a deteriorating jaw that required more surgery. Then there was also the constant pain from an arthritic hip.Sue Celmer also stated:
"But there was tremendous hope. He had no cancer. He was not terminal. There were many things we were looking forward to do."
"I think they're misguided, I think they lack the insight of truth."
"His physical condition was curable. Any depression he had was treatable, and death is not."
The family is contemplating a civil suit against the Final Exit Network.
Link to the article from February 28 that interviewed Sue Celmer:
Link to the article in the Arizona Daily Star: