National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Life Notes

BY Jim Cosgrove

March 26-April 01, 2000 Issue | Posted 3/26/00 at 2:00 AM


FBI Investigating Sales of Fetal Body Parts

REUTERS, March 11 — The FBI in Kansas City, Missouri, has launched a probe into the marketing of fetal tissue, reported the news service.

“We are investigating possible criminal violations in the marketing of fetal tissue to determine if there is a violation of federal criminal law,” FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza told Reuters.

Earlier this month, members of a House Commerce subcommittee called on Attorney General Janet Reno to open an investigation into the selling of fetal tissue after a Kansas City-area pathologist was featured in an ABC News undercover report about the alleged selling of fetal body parts for profit.

The pathologist, Dr. Miles Jones, was recorded by a hidden camera discussing making thousands of dollars a week selling fetal parts.

Jones was subpoenaed to testify before the committee and was held in contempt of Congress when he failed to appear.

Two Hawaiian Suicides Linked to Final Exit Video

HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN NEWS, March 7 — Two people who suffered from depression used the same method to kill themselves as described on a controversial guide to committing suicide that was aired on public access television, reported the Honolulu Star-Bulletin News.

The victims, who suffocated themselves, were pronounced dead within two days of the showing, the Honolulu medical examiner's office said. Dr. Kanthi von Guenthner, first deputy medical examiner, said she has never seen two suicides using the same method occur on the same weekend.

“I don't think this was coincidence,” von Guenthner told the News. “Once they see the method, it encourages them to practice it.”

The video, Final Exit, was based on a best selling book by Derek Humphry.

The victims, a man in his 60s who was depressed over a failed relationship and a woman in her 40s with a history of clinical depression, were not chronically ill, von Guenthner said to the News.

Assisted Suicide Comes to New York

SYRACUSE HERALD-JOURNAL, March 3 — New York State Supreme Court Justice James Tormey ordered that nutrition and hydration be withheld from Sheila Pouliot, a 42-year-old mentally and physically retarded patient at University Hospital, reported the Herald-Journal.

Doctors testified in court that the judge should order the euthanasia saying that her worsening condition would see her “die by millimeters.” “Her body is basically starting to devour itself,” one of the doctors testified.

“I believe anyone who has any compassion for a person in a situation like Sheila Pouliot would not file an appeal of my order,” Tormey told Assistant Attorney General Winthrop Thurlow. The judge said he thought it “unconscionable” to continue the hydration treatment, given its consequences for Pouliot, reported the Herald-Journal.

Thurlow vigorously objected to terminating hydration for Pouliot. “I believe withholding of nutrition and hydration represents assisted suicide, which is not permitted under New York law,” Thurlow said.