Rebecca Millette

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Oregon looks to ban ‘suicide kits,’ but permits doctor-assisted suicides

Rebecca Millette

SALEM, Oregon, April 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A newly proposed bill in Oregon seeks to ban “suicide kits” in the state.  The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 376-1 this week that would make it illegal to “sell or transfer any substance or object to another person with the intent that the other person use the substance or object to commit suicide.”

The bill, drafted by Senator Floyd Prozanski, arose from the suicide of Nick Klonoski, 29, who took his life with a “helium hood kit” ordered online from a California company last December.  Klonski’s death stirred anger in the media and among legislators who have advocated for making such assistance illegal.

The current law in Oregon states that it is a crime if a person “intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide.”  However, physician-assisted suicide is legal and on the rise in the state. 

“I appear with a heavy heart and in strong support of SB 376-1,” Nick Klonoski’s brother Zach testified at the hearing.

Another brother, Jack, previously told The Register-Guard, “The company that sells this kit obviously is purposely targeting a vulnerable group. They made money off my brother, they gave him the tools to take his own life without knowing him, without knowing anything about him. For $60, they blew his life apart. It breaks my heart.”

Legislators maintain the proposed legislation against “suicide kits” needs to be far-reaching so that individuals in other states selling or advising suicide methods to Oregon residents can be charged with felony.

“We are seeing these kits with some regularity now, and they are being used with greater frequency than we know,” Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner said at the hearing.

Senator Jeff Kruse suggested the seller could have no idea whether the buyer intended to commit suicide. “Someone could order it just to see what it looks like,” Kruse said.

Gardner countered, “There is no benign explanation for these things being sold together in this form … this can only be a suggestion to use this for suicide.”

Junction City resident Derek Humphry, a well-known supporter of the “right” to suicide, argues that selling or advising suicide methods is protected by free speech rights.  His book, “Final Exit,” describes how to use the “helium hood kit” and was found in the room with Klonoski’s body.

Senator Prozanski said the bill will be carried forward, with a scheduled working session shortly. The bill is expected to go to the House and Senate floors for a vote after the working session.

Meanwhile, little attention has been given to the fact that in Oregon physician-assisted suicide is legal and rising steadily each year.  Bioethics writer and critic, Wesley J. Smith, questions the inconsistency of Oregonian law. 

The state pushed “legalization of assisted suicide for the terminally ill”, Smith said, while now seeking to save individuals with little or no physical ailments targeted with “suicide kits.”  “How can a state–or media … say that suicide is great for one group but bad for another?” questions Smith.



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