Right to die billboard causes a big stir

June 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's a simple billboard, raising complicated questions. People advocating what they call "the right to die" brought their message to the Bay Area on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a sign went up at the intersection of Howard and Van Ness. The six words on the sign costs $2,500 and it's getting a lot of attention.

Some people are going out of their way to read the billboard and many are taking a double take.

It reads: "My life my death my choice."

"I don't like the message, it reminds me of the suicide doctor, why, I don't know. Do we need this? I don't think we need this," says Peter Varga from San Francisco.

The non-profit behind the sign disagrees. The Final Exit Network says the sign will be up for 30 days. Their message is to terminally ill individuals who choose to end their lives rather than die naturally.

"We don't encourage anybody to end their life, we don't provide the means for them to do so, and we don't physically assist them in any way. What we do is give them that compassionate support because we don't think anyone in that situation should have to die alone," says Frank Kavanaugh from the Final Exit Network.

Oregon, Washington, and Montana are the only states that allow assisted suicides. The FBI is charging Final Exit Network organizers with illegally assisting in suicides.

"It sounds a lot nicer than it really is," says Father Lawrence Goode from the St. Francis of Assisi Church.

Father Goode doesn't believe people ever really want to die, no matter how sick they are. He worries the billboard will send the wrong message.

"I think it opens a Pandora's box. I'm really concerned... this becomes a choice to die," says Father Goode.

"If my cancer comes back and I have to go through this, I'd like to have that as a choice," says cancer patient Steve Kelem.

Kelem knows physical and emotional pain. He won the fight against cancer, but his wife, Nancy, didn't. She believed in assisted suicide, but couldn't get anyone to help. She died in 2007.

"It wasn't just a smooth ride to death, it was just horrible to have to watch and it was horrible for her to go through," says Kelem.

Final Exit Network is putting up similar signs in New Jersey and Florida. They say this one will stay up longer if they can find the funding for it.


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