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From att!sun!portal!cup.portal.com!rburns Tue Jul 17 02:14:00 1990
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Subject: Cryonics and Euthanasia
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 90 23:06:18 PDT
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I just got through watching the Phil Donahue Show featuring Thomas Donaldson,
Carlos Mondragon and Mike Darwin. I really felt that they handled themselves
quite well. I was also surprised that Donahue handled the issue as 
sensitively  as he did. 

The medical establishment representative seemed like a nice man who was a 
bit out of his league from a technical perspective. Still, he did have an
excellent point about euthanasia being used to relieve suffering in good 
times and to create suffering in bad times.

I honestly think that whatever we that are interested in cryonics do, at 
least one state will start to permit euthanasia or medically assisted 
suicides within the next 5 years. What I am concerned about is that if, 
in fact these laws are abused, Alcor and cryonics could get a negative
association that it does not deserve. I am also concerned that cryonics 
might well be used to cause some people to choose euthanasia more 
casually than they might otherwise. I am throwing out the question of 
what, if any, self imposed limitations Alcor and the cryonics community 
should impose on their use  of euthanasia prior to suspension? For example,
should people requesting suspension that would occur prior to their 
natural death be required to sign up for suspension some period before 
their death?(say six months or a year) Do we, as members of Alcor, want 
to minimize association with people who make these decisions at the last 
minute, or encourage others to choose euthanasia under a state of duress?  
I am just throwing this out as a possible means by which we might distance
ourselves from people that might abuse these new liberalizations of the law. 

I expect that  once the legal issues are out of the way, 10-15% of all 
suspensions will occur before the point of natural death. I also
expect euthanasia to become an increasingly visible public issue over 
the next few years. Alcor and cryonics are a rather vulnerable target for 
some demagogue trying to make a name for himself because our practices 
are unusual and because many of us appear, well, a little "weird" to the 
general public. Sam Brown (the found of the Peace Corp) once said "The 
more radical your ideas, the more conservative your suit should be". 
There's a lot of truth to this, we cryonicists need for our ethics and 
rhetoric to not only be as good as the medical establishment's, but
substantially better. The Donaldson case is really the clearest possible
case in which I can imagine that permission for an early suspension should
be granted-I hope that we do our homework now, so that we never do have a 
case which is less exemplary.

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