NRL News

A “Death Doula” Loses His Medical License

by | Jan 5, 2015


By Wesley J. Smith

Lawrence G. Egbert

Lawrence G. Egbert

There is more to this story than a ghoul suicide facilitator losing his medical license.

Lawrence G. Egbert is part of the suicide “counseling” organization, Final Exit Network [FEN]. The group assists all kinds of people–including the mentally ill–in killing themselves with helium. Now, Egbert has lost his license. From the New York Times story:

State regulators said that Dr. Egbert had acted as what the network calls an exit guide for six people in Maryland from May 2004 to November 2008. “Dr. Egbert reviewed their applications and medical records and recommended accepting them as members,” said the order, which was signed by Christine A. Farrelly, the executive director of the Board of Physicians. “Dr. Egbert attended their suicide rehearsals. He held each member’s hand and talked to him or her.”

Each of the patients died, the state said, of asphyxiation caused by helium inhalation, and Dr. Egbert “removed the hoods and helium tanks” from the places where the five women and one man died. Those patients had been diagnosed with conditions that included Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

At 87, big deal. These people need jail if they are going to be deterred. Good luck with that!

But let’s look a bit more closely at the FEN and connect some dots:

1. FEN is not a rogue group within the suicide movement, but reflect the actual beliefs of many adherents that facilitated suicide is a fundamental human right.

2. If it is a “right,” it can’t be limited to the few who meet “strict guidelines.” Those are just there to give false assurance anyway, not to actually be enforced.

3. Is helium a medical agent? No more than Jack Kevorkian’s favored agent, carbon monoxide. Should these gases be covered by Medicare as a palliative agent? Of course not.

4. This shows that assisted suicide isn’t really a medical procedure. Death groups like the Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices just support the “medical model” to harness the authority of the doctor to legitimize the suicide cause.

5. That is why Scotland is promoting the idea of “licensed suicide facilitators” and the LA Times recently ran a piece advocating “death doulas” to assist suicides in place of doctors. Kevorkian similarly argued that these proposed death-bringers should be called, “lay executioners.”

6. Even if assisted suicide is legalized for the terminally ill, FEN will still help kill those who don’t qualify under the law. And what will be done about it? Not much.

Look around. We face an existential crisis in which we are becoming a pro-suicide culture. Not for everyone–for now–but for an ever-expanding group that will ultimately lead to death-on-demand for anyone with more than a transitory desire to die.

“Death doulas?” No, death ghoulas!

Support for these groups–and this cause–ultimately becomes a message to despairing and suffering people, in the words of Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear: I don’t give a damn.”

Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.

Categories: Assisted Suicide