Hemlock Society Changes Name to Moderate Its Image

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 24, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Hemlock Society Changes Name to Moderate Its Image

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 24, 2003

Denver, CO (LifeNews.com) — The Hemlock Society, a 23 year-old group that advocates assisted suicide, has announced it is changing its name to End-of-Life Choices.

"The new name is a more direct and accurate description of who we are and of the issues we support," said Paul Spiers, the group’s board chairman.

Pro-life groups say the name is merely an attempt to cover up a radical agenda.

"Pro-euthanasia forces are masters of euphemism — and they have to be," Lori Kehoe told LifeNews.com. "The not so shocking reality is that most people do not find offing the elderly, the sick or people with disabilities very honorable or very support-worthy."

Kehoe, who is a congressional liaison for the National Right to Life department of medical ethics, said "They can call themselves whatever they want but the fact is that what is offensive about them isn’t what they choose to call themselves but rather what they’ve chosen as their mission."

The group’s name change may cause problems for the many organizations that actually offer end-of-life services to the elderly and disabled.

Tina Klugh, a marketing assistant at the Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home in Fargo, North Dakota, told LifeNews.com that her business uses the term "End of Life Choices" when talking to older people about burial arrangements.

"The new name creates some real challenges, even if one looks only through an industry lens, for writers of pre-need literature, pre-plan educational classes and funeral ‘industry’ advertising," Klugh said.

"It will be important for senior care organizations and end-of-life related businesses to be pro-active in rebutting this choice of wording, which associates pro-suicide ideology with one’s aging," Klugh told LifeNews.com.

The Hemlock Society was named after a poisonous plant. Hemlock is believed to be the poison drunk by Socrates in 399 BC. The group is known for its how-to suicide manual "Final Exit."