Assisted suicide activists are eyeing the Tar Heel state as fertile ground for their agenda
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
GASTONIA – North Carolina could become home to one of the nation’s first assisted suicide facilities unless state lawmakers take action early next year to outlaw the practice.
According to media reports, George Exoo, also known as “Reverend Death,” purchased a home on West Circle Road in Gastonia in 2007. Although he first planned to use it as a rental, the former Unitarian Universalist pastor from West Virginia now says he’d like to make it a “hospice” where he would help patients end their lives, something he’s done more than a hundred times before.
“Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of three states in which the statutes are silent on the issue of assisted suicide and common law that would cover it has been abolished,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “As Christians we know that life — from conception to the last breath — is a precious gift from God; and our state laws should protect it as such.
“We urge lawmakers to make a ban on assisted suicide a top priority before this Kevorkian character opens up a death house in Gaston County.”
Barbara Holt, president of North Carolina Right to Life, said her organization pushed for a bill, introduced by Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston) in 2003 (S 145 – Physician Assisted Suicide) that would have made physician-assisted suicide a Class D felony. But Hospice and Palliative Care of the Carolinas successfully lobbied against the measure by insisting that it would inhibit doctors’ use of morphine to treat pain and contending that North Carolina did not have a problem with assisted suicide.
“Fortunately there was a study done that showed a direct correlation between the rise in the use of morphine and the strengthening of the laws banning assisted suicide,” Holt said. “Hospice’s first argument was easily refuted by the study.”
“I wonder what they will say now,” she added in reference to Exoo’s plans and other evidence that assisted suicide activists are eyeing the Tar Heel state as fertile ground for their agenda.
“Live and Let Go — An American Death,” a film made in North Carolina and featuring a man killing himself with help from his son and daughter, was named Best Documentary in late 2003 at the Asheville Film Festival.
Another documentary, “Reverend Death” by British journalist Jon Ronson, revealed that Exoo, now 62, has already been working with a North Carolina woman who has hired herself out, at about $7,000 a pop, to help people kill themselves.
“I’ve never done anything as important as this in my ministry. I think it’s the reason I was placed on this planet,” Exoo told the filmmaker in reference to his euthanasia enterprise. “I’m a midwife to the dying, for those who want to hasten their deaths.”
Exoo got the attention of the Irish police when he and his homosexual partner helped a woman there to kill herself in 2002. He served four months in jail in West Virginia in 2007 before a judge there ruled he could not be extradited because of variances between Irish laws and those applicable in West Virginia.
Described by some as a person “hopelessly in love with death,” Exoo has his clients watch a “Life After Life” video in which six people describe their near-death experiences and tells them they should look forward to their “great adventure.” He does not limit his services to those with fatal illnesses.
Holt said that rather than bringing death to those who have expressed a wish to kill themselves, we should offer treatment for depression and help with pain management.
“The state Legislature must act in January 2011, when it reconvenes, to ban assisted suicide. If they do not act then, our state will later find itself fighting off a bill to legalize assisted suicide,” she said. “The next logical step will be the state using our tax dollars to pay for assisted suicides rather than paying for expensive treatments to help cure a variety of illnesses. This has already happened in Oregon.”
Helping someone kill himself is forbidden by statute in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Nine states consider it criminal under common law and the issue has been the subject of various and challenged court rulings in others. Only two – Oregon and Washington – have made physician assisted suicide legal with specific provisions regarding the patient’s condition.
The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the issue in 2006, refusing to overturn Oregon’s law and leaving it up to states to regulate.
“We trust lawmakers will come back to Raleigh in January armed with solid bill proposals to address this problem,” said the Rev. Creech. “We must protect those folks who are already in the midst of severe and painful struggles from losing their very lives to those who would glorify suicide as a business or, worse yet, a ministry.”