ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Assisted suicide advocates gathered Friday for a national conference of the Hemlock Society USA. They were met by disability rights protesters who warned the movement would lead to the killing of the handicapped.
Ann Arbor police enforced an uneasy peace at the Sheraton Inn as members of Not Dead Yet, many in wheel chairs, hitched their publicity wagon to the Hemlock Society's gathering.
The focus of most of the talk on both sides Friday was Michigan's statewide ballot initiative in November to allow asisted suicide for those with six months or less to live. The law is similar to one that took effect last year in Oregon, twice approved by that state's voters.
"With friends like Merian's, who needs enemies?" asked a poster taped to his motorized wheel chair in the hotel lobby. Tom Cagle came from New Hampshire to join other Not Dead Yet members outside the Hemlock Society meeting. "Basically, this is legalized killing of anybody with any type of disability," he said.
The world's best known advocate and practitioner of doctor-aided suicide Dr. Jack Kevorkian was present in spirit, if not in body. Humphrey and other Hemlock leaders expressed admiration but qualified support for his work.
A Not Dead Yet flyer had another description for him "serial killer." --