Online hotline operators in the hot seat

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

man using computer in dark roomIn the wake of her daughter's death, a Pennsylvania lawmaker is calling for anyone who encourages a person to commit suicide to face steeper penalties than those currently on the books.

State Representative Dawn Keefer (R) was alarmed to learn from a constituent that her 25-year-old daughter committed suicide at the instruction of chatroom operators.

"They walked her through her suicide step by [step], down to buying the products off of Amazon, the amount to take and how to take it, and [they] continued to give her support," Keefer shares. "At another point they encouraged her; when she was apprehensive, they said to jump the bus. 'You should do it. Go ahead. You'll be better off. We'll see you on the other side.'"

The parents knew nothing until they observed their daughter's online contacts after her death.

Keefer

Rep. Keefer explains that under current law, "if you cause, or even if you assist somebody with suicide, it's graded as a second-degree felony or a second-degree misdemeanor, and that's punishable by five to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine for the felony or two years in prison and a $5,000 fine for the misdemeanor."

She has introduced House Bill 1785 to increase that penalty for anyone who aids or encourages a person with an intellectual disability or anyone under age 18 to kill themselves. The House has passed and sent the bill to the first step in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee.

Keefer encourages everyone in the country to be aware of the chatrooms and to urge their state lawmakers to pass legislation to deal with them.

Skewed stats

Meanwhile, stats revealed in an annual report on doctor-assisted suicide show 20% more Californians killed themselves in 2019 than in the previous year. Brian Johnston of the California Pro-Life Council tells OneNewsNow that while 405 such suicides were reported, that's not likely an accurate figure.

"A doctor doesn't have to send in the report; there's no penalty for failure to report," he reports, "and this is absolutely significant because it clearly skews the answers we get."

Johnson also points out there is a third party involved who could be involved in intentionally killing a patient. That, says Johnston, is a form of euthanasia.

"It is ostensibly volunteer euthanasia, but it's euthanasia [nonetheless]," he adds. "And once the person is dead, there's no way to determine just how voluntary it was." In other words, there's no follow-up – and if euthanasia has taken place, there's no investigation, no accountability, says Johnston.

The pro-life activist concludes by noting that a question remains unanswered: What is the impact of this on the medical community?

"We are witnessing a complete inversion of the medical practice of our state and nation – and unless you're aware of that, you and your loved ones will be at risk. This is a very serious change in our cultural values."

The problems cited in California's practices are about the same as those in other states and Washington, DC, where it is legal.


Editor's note: Section on California report added after story was originally posted.

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