Michigan Woman Sentenced for Violating Assisted Suicide Law

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 9, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michigan Woman Sentenced for Violating Assisted Suicide Law

by Pauol Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
June 9, 2004

Holland, MI (LifeNews.com) — A Michigan woman has been sentenced to 3 years probation after pleading guilty to violating the state’s assisted suicide ban.

Lea Marie Thrush had given her friend a box a razor blades and a book on assisted suicide. Her friend then used them to unsuccessfully try to commit suicide. As part of her sentence, Thrush has been ordered to pay her friend’s medical bills which amount to over $35,000. She was sentenced May 21.

"Any situation where someone feels such desperation as to commit suicide is tragic, Ed Rivet, Legislative Director of Right to Life of Michigan, told LifeNews.com. "That another person would assist in suicide only compounds the tragedy."

The law had come out of the controversy surrounding assisted suicide advocates such as Jack Kevorkian. Kevorkian had not been charged under the assisted suicide law, but second-degree murder.

In 2002 a Lansing, Michigan woman pleaded guilty to attempted assisted suicide when she drove her son and daughter-in-law to an abandoned building and supplied them with drugs for a joint suicide. Her son died but her daughter-in-law survived.

A similar case took place in Minnesota in the 1980s where a woman killed herself with a gun supplied by her boyfriend.

"What is important about the law’s effect, however, is that when we worked to ban assisted suicide, the pro-death forces, like Robert Sedler, said it was a law targeted at Jack Kevorkian only. Geoffrey Fieger called it a ‘bill of attainder.’" added Rivet. "But now we have had the law applied in two cases in the last couple years. Clearly we need to have public policies that discourage suicide and hold as illegal the assisting of suicide, no matter what the circumstances."

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry has voiced support of states’ decisions whether or not to allow assisted suicides. Kerry also appeared to disagree with an effort by President Bush to disallow federally controlled drugs to be used in suicides in the state.

Oregon is the only state to have legalized assisted suicide. Attempts to allow it have been defeated in Michigan, Maine, Wyoming and Hawaii.

In Vermont, the legislative leaders decided not to address the issue after their governor, state medical association and several organizations, including disabilities groups, voiced opposition to the measure.

Related web sites:
Right to Life of Michigan – https://www.rtl.org