AP story about Seattle assisted suicide party sheer propaganda

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg

The following story may seem like a plot from a bad horror film, but it is simply another assisted suicide propaganda story.

The Associated Press (AP) published an article written by Gene Johnson about an assisted suicide party in Seattle. The story is designed to make you open to assisted suicide, but this story leads to questions about assisted suicide and why AP decided to publish assisted suicide propaganda.

The AP story is about Robert Fuller (75) who planned his suicide party. Johnson’s story gives Fuller his 15 minutes of fame. The story goes something like this.

Fuller, who is a nominal Catholic, marries his male partner, Reese Baxter, in the morning. He then moves down to the common room, in his seniors building, to greet friends and well wishers. Later that afternoon he injects a fatal drug cocktail into his feeding tube and dies.

It appears that Fuller may have had a life-long problem with suicidal ideation, which Johnson casually describes as Fuller’s “long, matter-of-fact relationship with death.” When Fuller was 8 his aunt died by a suicide, drowning in the Merrimack River.

According to Johnson, Fuller stated, “If life gets painful, you go to the Merrimack River.”

Johnson describes how Fuller survived a suicide attempt in 1975. His marriage ended after telling his wife he was gay, and he was drinking too much.

Johnson writes that as a nurse in the 1980’s, Fuller cared for people with HIV. Fuller admits to intentionally killing a patient, with a drug overdose to “end his battle” with AIDS.

Johnson also writes that Fuller intentionally lived a sexual lifestyle in the 80’s that “was so risky it verged on suicidal.”Johnson quotes Fuller as saying, “I think I wanted to get AIDS. …All my friends were dying.”

This story should deeply concern suicide prevention professionals. When Fuller sought assisted suicide, were his suicidal tendencies examined? It is difficult to differentiate between a “rational” wish to die and suicidal ideation.

To offer the other side of the issue, Johnson publishes a few quotes from bioethicist Wesley J. Smith, who opposes assisted suicide. Smith states

to allow people to hasten their deaths represents an abandonment, a signal to the terminally ill that their lives are not worth living, he said.

“We should be very concerned that we are normalizing suicide in our society, especially at the very time during which, practically out of the other side of our mouth, we are saying suicide is an epidemic,” Smith said.

I think that Smith hit the nail on the head. But Johnson immediately counters with “Whether such deaths do constitute suicide is a semantic debate.” He writes that Fuller rejected treatment and “choose death” but not until he lived out a few “bucket list” experiences.

The article then undermines the Catholic Church. Fuller attended a Catholic parish (although “he considered himself a shaman”), where the priest and many parishioners seem accepting of death by assisted suicide. The parish priest “brought over a group of white-clad children who were receiving their first communion,” Johnson writes. “They raised their arms and blessed him.”

No concern about the “thou shall not kill” concept.

Finally the article describes the “death midwife” participation and how Fuller’s death was without complications. However, data shows that many people who die by assisted suicide do not experience a death without pain, suffering, and complications.

Why am I writing about the AP propaganda article?

This is a very pro-assisted suicide article designed to undermine opposition to doctor prescribed suicide.

Johnson seems to have little concern about how glorifying suicide leads to a suicide contagion effect.

Popularizing assisted suicide is not about creating awareness but providing new customers for the assisted suicide death business.

The article admits that suicide was an integral part of Fuller’s life experience. What effect do these articles have on other wounded individuals who are scarred by their suicide experiences or suicide attempts? Society must not trivialize suicide.

Finally, assisted suicide was once an avant garde concept, now normalizing assisted suicide is another political propaganda tool.

It’s time for the media to provide real journalism and not propaganda.

Order the Fatal Flaws film from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and see the other side of the story.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.