Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Misleading claims by Final Exit Network

Jerry Dincin wrote an article making a few off the mark claims about the Final Exit Network. This is the response by Stephen Drake, the researcher from Not Dead Yet, to the article

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Stephen Drake
As the research analyst for a national disability rights group that opposes legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, I am all too familiar with the Final Exit Network (FEN). I think it's important that readers – and the editors – know that Jerry Dincin misled readers on several points in his essay published on June 7 ("Death with dignity").

Mr. Dincin claims that authorities are "persecuting" FEN members in Georgia and Arizona. That is a gross distortion. The authorities in Georgia and Arizona initiated investigations after complaints by concerned relatives that the apparent suicides of their loved ones were aided and encouraged by FEN members. That's not "persecution" — it's "doing your job."

In Georgia, the undercover agent who investigated FEN posing as a cancer patient asserted he was never asked for his medical records. Further, he reported that he was told that part of the "help" he would be given involved a FEN "exit guide" holding his hands down to prevent him from removing the helium-filled plastic bag meant to cause his death.

In Arizona, the person "helped" was a woman with no serious physical problems — but who had a history of emotional difficulties. Mr. Dincin didn't mention that two of the defendants in that case have entered into a plea bargain and agreed to testify against other FEN members — including Larry Egbert.

The man "helped" in Georgia was a man successfully treated for cancer, and who was depressed over the surgical alterations to his physical appearance. Autopsy found him to be cancer-free.

Search for op-eds by FEN members and you'll find the claims that members make about their goals, methods and "clients" to vary widely — apparently, they can't keep their stories straight. The journalists at the paper might want to actually do some research and reporting on this case before giving the group a bully pulpit here.

Stephen Drake, Rochester, N.Y.

The writer is a research analyst for Not Dead Yet.

Link to the article in the Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-final-exit-network-letter-20100608,0,1035733.story

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