X-Message-Number: 12374
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 13:15:00 EDT
Subject: premortem

Brook Norton and Scott Badger had good questions/comments on the subject of 
possibly obtaining a Medical Examiner's cooperation and waiver of autopsy in 
the case of a terminally ill patient who chooses suicide, in a state where 
suicide is not illegal even though assisted suicide might be.

1. Life insurance and suicide: Yes, I believe most policies, if not all, will 
pay off on suicide beyond a two year period. Naturally, one would need to 
check his own policy or prospective policy.

2. Mental function and suicide: Yes, suicide in the absence of clear mental 
competence would be a problem and undoubtedly a no-no for a Medical Examiner. 
I see no present good answer for that. 

3. Why haven't we already tried to enlist some cooperative Medical Examiners? 
Several reasons. First, I think success would be less likely if presented in 
the abstract--and even if apparently successful, the door would be left open 
to subsequent review, counter-pressures, and change of mind, either by that 
Medical Examiner or a successor. We are--I believe--much more likely to 
succeed with a specific case involving an impressive patient and 
relatives/friends. Then, once accomplished, we have a precedent, making the 
next case easier. Also, our members are widely scattered, and an advance 
attempt to enlist Medical Examiners in many states would be a major, 
expensive project. Also, the majority of deaths do not involve the 
circumstances that concern us here--namely, a clearly terminal condition and 
a clearly intolerable quality of life combined with a relatively extended 
life expectancy.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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