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 Oregon House Votes to Outlaw Sale of Suicide Kits

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PostSubject: Oregon House Votes to Outlaw Sale of Suicide Kits   Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:46 pm

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Oregon House Votes to Outlaw Sale of Suicide Kits

By Teresa Carson
Oregon House Votes to Outlaw Sale of Suicide Kits

PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters Health) Jun 14 - Sales of
suicide kits, like the do-it-yourself asphyxiation hood used by an
Oregon man to kill himself late last year, would be outlawed under a
bill passed on Monday by the Oregon House of Representatives.
Sponsors say the bill would in no way impinge on a
landmark 1997 state law legalizing physician-assisted suicides for
terminally ill individuals in Oregon.
Washington is the only other state with such a statute on the books.
The newly passed Oregon bill was sparked by
notoriety surrounding an elderly California woman who sells
self-asphyxiation kits through a mail-order business, and the December
suicide of one of her customers from Eugene, Oregon, 29-year-old
Nicholas Klonoski.
Sharlotte Hydorn, 91, a retired science teacher
and great-grandmother who lives near San Diego, says her product is
intended to help people with incurable, fatal illnesses end their lives
with dignity in their own homes.
The kits, which sell for $60 apiece including
shipping, consist of a plastic hood that closes around the neck and
tubing that connects the hood to a tank of helium or other inert gas the
patients supply themselves.
Critics, including Klonoski's brother, have
faulted Hydorn for not screening potential buyers of her kits, which
they say she peddles indiscriminately to customers who may be
emotionally fragile, rather than terminally ill.
Indeed, Klonoski's family said he suffered from
depression but was otherwise healthy when he used one of Hydorn's kits
to take his own life around Christmas time.
The bill approved by Oregon's House on a vote of
56-2 must now be considered in the state Senate, which passed similar
legislation in May.
"We don't want somebody coming into Oregon making
a profit off this kind of thing," Representative Jeff Barker, a
Democrat and sponsor of the bill, told Reuters.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and
former emergency room physician, has taken no position on the bill, a
spokeswoman said.
The bill would make it a felony, punishable by up
to 10 years in prison, for a person to sell "any substance or object
that is capable of causing death to another person for the purpose of
assisting the other person to commit suicide."
Supporters stressed the measure would leave
intact Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which allows physicians to
prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, though the
patients must be physically capable of administering the drug to
themselves.
State records show that 525 Oregonians have ended their lives under the statute since 1997.
Hydorn has said sales of her product, which she
calls "exit kits," jumped sharply as a result of media attention
stemming from Klonoski's death and reaction to it in Oregon. She said
much of her recent business has come from Oregon.
Armed federal agents raided her home last month
and seized cartons of documents, computers and sewing machines under a
search warrant Hydorn said accused her of conspiracy, mail fraud, tax
evasion and the "sale of (an) adulterated or misbranded medical device."

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