On the day of Lovelle Svart’s death, she threw a party at which she danced the polka with her friends, including George Eighmey, an Oregon assisted suicide activist and one of the two speakers at the pro-assisted suicide meetings being held in Vermont this week. After dancing with Lavelle, Eighmey, who has presided at many suicides, then went with her and others into her bedroom, stiffly and formally asked her whether she knew what she was doing and was doing it freely, brushed aside her saying that she’d really rather keep on partying, warmly and comfortingly told her that drinking the lethal dose of 90 or so barbiturate pills dissolved in liquid would take away all her pain and suffering, then counseled her on exactly how to drink it, not too quickly and not too slowly, in two minutes. Lovelle Svart drank the poison, though she said it was the worst tasting thing she had ever had to drink. She quickly fell into a coma and died about five hours later. Here is a link to the audio of her final act: http://next.oregonianextra.com/lovelle/video/lasthour-video.html.
At the following link, one can read about a response to a request for assisted suicide that is the opposite of George Eighmey’s and had a very different outcome: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/reprint/162/6/1060 Entitled Competing Paradigms of Response to Assisted Suicide Requests in Oregon and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2005, it tells of a terminally ill man who thought he was calling Compassion and Choices, Eighmey’s organization, for help in finding a doctor willing to prescribe a lethal overdose. Misled by the similarity in names, he called Physicians for Compassionate Choice, a group working against assisted suicide. The person who answered the phone simply said, “I don’t want you to commit suicide.” She went on to say that she would visit the man and keep in touch with him by phone. She visited only once a month. The man did go ahead and get the overdose of barbiturates but he did not use them. He had time to be reconciled with his estranged daughter before he died naturally several months later. He had time to enjoy the gift of a new friend, the receptionist at Physicians for Compassionate Care. This is the kind of assistance in dying we want for the citizens of our state, NOT assisted suicide!