The Magazine

Abandoning the Most Vulnerable

Britain moves closer to legalizing assisted suicide.

Oct 12, 2009, Vol. 15, No. 04 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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That wasn't all. He worked assiduously at destroying Lebov's will to live by making her feel worthless and a burden. On March 28, 1995, Delury wrote in his diary that he planned to tell his wife:

I have work to do, people to see, places to travel. But no one asks about my needs. I have fallen prey to the tyranny of a victim. You are sucking my life out of my [sic] like a vampire and nobody cares. In fact, it would appear that I am about to be cast in the role of villain because I no longer believe in you.

Delury later admitted on the NBC program Dateline that he had shown his wife that very passage.

That Delury wanted Lebov to kill herself is beyond dispute. On May 1 he wrote:

Sheer hell. Myrna is more or less euphoric. She spoke of writing a book today. [Lebov was a published author, having written Not Just a Secretary in 1984.] She's interested in everything, wants everything explained, and believes that every bit of bad news has some way out. .  .  . It's all too much.

On June 10, Delury's diary described an argument with Lebov that started when she left a message to her niece that "things are looking splendid":

I blew up! Shouting into the phone that everything was just the same, it was simply Myrna feeling different. I told Myrna that she had hurt me very badly, not my feelings, but physically and emotionally. "Now what will Beverly [Lebov's sister] think? That I'm lying about how tough things are here." I put it to Myrna bluntly--"If you won't take care of me, I won't take care of you."

On July 3, 1995, the day before Myrna's death, Delury wrote:

Myrna is now questioning the efficacy of solution, a sure sign that she will not take [the overdose] tonight and doesn't want to. So, confusion and hesitation strike again. If she changes her mind tonight and does decide to go ahead, I will be surprised.

Finally, on July 4, Delury got what he wanted: Lebov swallowed the overdose of antidepressant medicine that her husband prepared for her and died.

Once the contents of his diary were publicly revealed, though, Delury's defense of "compassion" became inoperative, which is why he accepted the plea bargain.

That still wasn't the end of the story. In But What If She Wants to Die?--published after double jeopardy prevented another prosecution--Delury wrote that he hadn't just mixed -Lebov's drugs, but also smothered her with a plastic bag because he was worried that the amount she ingested might not be sufficient to kill her. Thus, Myrna Lebov didn't really die by suicide: She was killed by her husband. (Delury died by his own hand in 2007, at the age of 74.)

Thanks to the assisted suicide guidelines, potential Myrna -Lebovs in Britain are now at the mercy of future George Delurys. And those Delurys know full well that, so long as they don't keep inculpating diaries, they will have little trouble convincing prosecutors that their motive was compassion, a claim readily believed in a society so fearful and disdainful of disability. Such are the consequences of the state prosecutor's decision that protecting the dying and infirm from assisted suicide is no longer in the public interest.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and consults for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide and the Center for Bioethics and Culture.