Life and Death with Pain

Even if my condition is terminal, and will ultimately take my life, I still affirm life in general and my life in particular...

Even if my condition allows me to live for many more years in excruciating pain and suffering, I still affirm life in general and my life in particular...

Many who suffer from pain also fight against:

These are often enough to drive a person to consider suicide, even without the pressure from other people to consider �physician assisted suicide.�

Many patients have resisted this pressure. Their resistence was strengthened by:

A support group can help with many of these steps toward wholeness.

Joint Statement Against Assisted Suicide

Jewish - Muslim - Christian

Mindful of our leadership positions in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith communities that we serve, and aware of the physician-assisted suiced phenomenon which occupies the attention of our community, we take this unprecedented step of issuing a joint statement against assisted suicide.

We call for calm reflection and prayer, within the disciplines of our faith traditions, to come to the knowledge of what is required of us as stewards, not owners, of human life.

Signed this 7th May 1998 by:

Rabbi Irwin Groner
President, Board of Rabbis, Congregation Shaarey Zedek

Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi
Islamic House of Wisdom

Mrs. Hazel Boltwood
American Baptist Church

Rev. Edward Gehres, Jr.
Presbyterian Church

Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim
Chaldean Catholic Church

Cardinal Adam Maida
Roman Catholic Church

Bishop J. Philip Wahl
Evangelical Lutheran Church in American

Bishop R. Stewart Wood
Episcopal Church

Assisted suicide advocates, disabled clash at conference

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Assisted suicide advocates gathered Friday for a national conference of the Hemlock Society USA. They were met by disability rights protesters who warned the movement would lead to the killing of the handicapped.

Ann Arbor police enforced an uneasy peace at the Sheraton Inn as members of Not Dead Yet, many in wheel chairs, hitched their publicity wagon to the Hemlock Society's gathering.

The focus of most of the talk on both sides Friday was Michigan's statewide ballot initiative in November to allow asisted suicide for those with six months or less to live. The law is similar to one that took effect last year in Oregon, twice approved by that state's voters.

�With friends like Merian's, who needs enemies?� asked a poster taped to Tom Cagle's motorized wheel chair in the hotel lobby. Tom came from New Hampshire to join other Not Dead Yet members outside the Hemlock Society meeting. �Basically, this is legalized killing of anybody with any type of disability,� he said. The world's best known advocate and practitioner of doctor-aided suicide Dr. Jack Kevorkian was present in spirit, if not in body. Humphrey (a leader in the Society) and other Hemlock leaders expressed admiration but qualified support for his work.

A Not Dead Yet flyer had another description for him: �serial killer.�

Aid-in-dying opponents arrested

Protesters hit gathering of Hemlock Society

About 50 protesters, most of them disabled and in wheelchairs, stormed into the lobby of the Sheraton Inn in Ann Arbor Saturday, disrupting a national conference of the Hemlock Society, which advocates for physician-assisted suicide.

Eight protesters were arrested for trespassing, and 12 were issued citations for creating a fire hazard by blocking hotel doors. The protesters skirmished briefly with hotel staff and Hemlock Society leaders, but the society's conference largely went on without interruption.

�They're giving off the message that we're better dead than disabled,� said Bob Liston, an Ypsilanti resident who is a leader of Not Dead Yet, the group representing the protesters.

Ann Arbor police officers, who wheeled the protesters outside after a hotel manager said they were trespassing, arrested eight of them and transported them in buses to the Larcom Municipal Building, where they were released, said Police Sgt. Mark St. Amour.

The Ann Arbor Fire Department issued the 12 citations.

Not Dead Yet said members of its group came to Ann Arbor from all around the country to protest.

Inside the conference room where the Hemlock Society was meeting, speakers carried on with their agenda. They could occasionally hear the protesters' chants from the distant lobby, such as: �We're not dead yet� and �Hemlock Society promotes murder.�

Evelyn Neuhaus, an Ann Arbor resident who has Gaucher disease, a rare metabolic disorder, was invited by the Hemlock Society to speak. She has spent months in traction from the easily broken bones that come with her disease.

She said she opposes physician-assisted suicide, for similar reasons as Not Dead Yet, though she isn't a member.

�Once you start allowing this issue, there's no way you can protect vulnerable people,� she said. Neuhaus said she's concerned that physician-assisted suicide laws like the one proposed by Merian's Friends, an Ann Arbor-based group, give doctors too much power to decide who deserves to die.

�Doctors' orientation is much like the general population's, that disability is a fate worse than death,� she said.

Dr. Howard Brody, a Michigan State University family practice professor, said that if proper pain care was available to all, only about 3 percent of those who initially asked to die would actually want to go through with it.

�Whatever we do, we ought to be promoting better comfort care,� he said.

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