Oregon votes to outlaw sale of suicide kits
By Teresa Carson
PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters) - Sales of suicide kits, like the do-it-yourself asphyxiation hood used by a man to kill himself late last year, could soon be outlawed in the state of Oregon.
The state's House of Representative passed the bill on Monday to ban the products. It must now be considered in the state Senate, which passed similar legislation in May.
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 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. Continued...