'Dying House' to Open in Oregon, ABC Worries About 'Taste'

For a tidy sum of $5,000 Dr. Stuart Weisberg, a 37-year-old psychiatrist, will help the terminally ill kill themselves. Despite the long, intense and emotional battle over assisted suicide, ABCnews.com reporter Susan Donaldson James' main concern is that Weisburg's business is tacky.

In a June 24 article, Donaldson James reported on “Dignity House,” a direct result of <?xml:namespace prefix = u1 />Oregon's Death with Dignity Law. Oregon is the only state in the U.S. that has legalized euthanasia.

The video attached to the article headline read, “A Portland psychiatrist is looking to give terminally-ill people a place to die.” 

"A patient would check in at 3 p.m.," Wiesberg told ABC's affiliate KATU. "We have music, flowers, catering. They can bring as many family members as they wish, their pets, their attorney,” Wiesberg told ABC. (For an additional $1,200 patients can receive three hours of psychiatric help from Weisberg and his therapy dog.)

“It's not clear how profitable – or tasteful – this business might be,” wrote Donaldson James. Then she turned to a critic – not of assisted suicide, but of Dignity House specifically.

"It's the commercialization of death with dignity," said George Eighmey, who helped pass Oregon's controversial law in 1997. Eighmey is currently the executive director of Compassion and Choices of Oregon. “He's creating a dying house, videotaping it, providing goods and services – I think that degrades what is going on,” Eighmey said.

According to Eighmey, euthanasia isn't the problem, it's choosing to be euthanized with catering. Readers had to look to the very end of the piece to find any acknowledgement that the act itself is problematic.

“Critics of the law said it would lead to a “slippery slope” and already out-of- state patients are easily establishing residence in Oregon to take advantage of the law, according to Dr. Willam Toffler, a professor of family medicine who is ardently opposed to Oregon's law.

 “The solution to suffering is never to kill the sufferer,” said Toffler. “The compassionate thing to do is alleviate suffering, but not by encouraging or seducing them to take an overdose. “

ABC's nonchalance on issues of life and death is hardly surprising, since the network recently promoted eugenics.

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