[PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LEGISLATIVE ALERT IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT;
IT IS REPRODUCED HERE FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES]
February 20, 2004
To Our Members,
As you may have heard, Alcor is currently engaged in a serious legislative matter. Representative Bob Stump has introduced a bill to the Arizona House of Representatives that proposes to regulate cryonics. HB 2637 (embalmers; funeral establishments; storing remains) proposes cryonics be regulated under the Funeral and Embalmer’s Board and that Alcor’s use of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) be stripped.
Although fifty legislators signed on as co-sponsors, we are finding as we contact them one by one that the support for this legislation may be a mile wide, but it is only an inch deep. Most of the co-sponsors with whom we’ve spoken are saying that they did it as a favor to the sponsor, Representative Stump, and would likely vote against it in its current form in committee or on the floor. We need your help to ensure this likelihood becomes reality.
We’d like you to choose a few of the talking points listed at the end of this letter which are most significant to you personally, and have you phone and fax your district Representatives and ask them to oppose the bill.
Please also contact the members of the House Health Committee by fax, email and phone and urge them to vote against HB 2637 regarding embalmers; funeral establishments; storing remains. Our hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 26, 2004 at 9:00 am, so it’s imperative that you contact them immediately.
Read below for examples of things to say.
The House Health Committee members are listed below. Any of them can be reached through the toll-free number for the Arizona Capitol, 1-800-352-8404.
[LIST REMOVED BECAUSE LEGISLATIVE ALERT IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT]
If you receive a response from any of the legislators, please let us know immediately.
In the most polite and non-confrontational but firm way here is what you should say in either email or phone calls:
Give them your brief credentials. It helps significantly if you are a registered voter in their district, and mention also that you are a doctor or researcher who works with our organization; you are an employee or a member of Alcor, or you are a family member of an Alcor patient – in other words what your direct connection is.
Thank them for their time and consideration.
This bill is a solution without a problem. That no one has identified the public health or public safety reason for this proposed legislation.
This bill would have the likely effect of eliminating our ability to continue performing cryopreservation procedures and research in Arizona.
Alcor was not invited to participate in the dialogue about this proposal until the very last minute and had virtually no input into the development of this legislation.
Finally ask them if they will please vote against the bill (if you are talking to a secretary or legislative assistant ask them to have the legislator get back to you with how they will vote).
If you don’t know the District number in which you live, you can look this up on the web at: http://www.vote-smart.org/index.htm. This form, located in the upper left navigation bar of the website, requires knowing your full nine-digit zip code, which may be obtained from: http://www.usps.com/zip4/. With your District number in hand, you can refer to the House Roster we’ve included with this letter to find the names of your Representatives. All phone and fax numbers listed are in the 602 area code.
If you have questions about the legislative processes or this appeal, you are encouraged to contact our lobbyist, Barry M. Aarons, or his staff members Jennifer Clark and Christen DuRoss at 331 North First Avenue, Suite #250, Phoenix, Arizona 85003; phone: 602-253-1821 Fax: 602-452-2929; email: .
Representative Stump is moving quickly, hoping to have this bill passed into law before we are able to react. We need your help to ensure this bill gets killed before it has the chance to damage the quality of care we provide to our membership. Please help us defeat this bill.
The sunrise process was not followed, and Alcor was not notified of the stakeholder meetings even though we are the target for which the proposed legislation was drafted;
Alcor is not necessarily opposed to regulation, but we oppose bill HB 2637, which mandates that Alcor be regulated by hostile parties with no understanding of what we do, and which does not respect the rights of Alcor members;
Alcor does not engage in the practice of embalming. The protocols and solutions used have no relevant similarities to the procedures and solutions used in the funeral industry. To the contrary, the protocols and solutions used for cryopreservation are similar to those used in medicine and organ transplant procedures;
We employ a highly skilled neurosurgeon to perform our surgery, and the use of an embalmer would represent a significant reduction in the quality of care we dispense to our members;
The training for embalmers does not supply them with any understanding of cryopreservation procedures or the requirements for proper storage of cryopreserved patients. Cryopreservation procedures are much more complex than embalming procedures, and many of the requirements are incompatible;
Our cryopreservation procedures are an application of experimental research protocols that are held to high medical standards, rather than cosmetic preservation the likes of which are carried out by funerary establishments;
Our doors have always been wide open. In addition, multiple authorities regularly scrutinize our legal, health and safety standards. Our practices, protocols and procedures are described in great detail on our website, in the printed literature we provide to our members and to the public, and have been publicly discussed on numerous occasions to audiences worldwide for the past 32 years;
All members of the legislature are invited to visit our facility in Scottsdale for a tour of our operations at any time that is convenient to them. We also conduct tours for the general public four times each week, on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm;
The five year storage time limit imposed by this bill will not only impact cryonics organizations, but can also be applied to museums, medical schools, organ banks, fertility centers, universities or even a skeleton kept for more than five years in a high school classroom;
To regulate a scientific process like cryonics, you need to suppose that a set of standards exists; that regulatory officials will have access to experts familiar with those standards; and that those standards have been communicated to all related organizations;
Alcor is engaged in progressive scientific and medical research under the guidance of scientific and medical advisory boards composed of highly skilled licensed Medical Doctors, PhD’s and renowned research scientists. No such skill level exists on the Funeral Board;
Revoking our access to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) will severely compromise our ability to rescue our patients outside the state of Arizona in a timely fashion, thereby rendering our procedures nearly useless;
The Funeral Board feels it is necessary to revoke Alcor’s access to the UAGA. Amending the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) in this non-uniform way removes the right of citizens in Arizona to designate a particular hospital, physician, or surgeon to carry out appropriate procedures in accordance with their wishes as specified by the UAGA. This is not just a regulation issue. It is a human rights issue involving the right of human beings to self-determination regarding their own fate in a matter that many people (and certainly our members) consider of prime personal importance;
Oversight should not be undertaken by an agency that is openly hostile to our mission, objectives and operations. Arizona Funeral Board Director Rudy Thomas was quoted by author Richard Sandomir as saying, “These companies need to be regulated or deregulated out of business.” (New York Times, 14 Oct 2003);
Alcor members are willing volunteers for an experimental procedure for which they make an informed decision years or many times decades in advance of when our services are needed. We make no guarantees that the procedure will work. No government agency should have the right to interfere with the self-determination rights of an individual to choose to donate their body to a research organization for the purpose of cryopreservation;
There have been no consumer complaints about our procedures in our 32-year history. The only contention about our operation since our inception has been, on two occasions, squabbles between family members over the concept of cryonics;
Alcor Life Extension Foundation is an asset to the State of Arizona as a responsible organization engaged in progressive medical and scientific research. Unlike the mission of the Funeral Board, our mission is the preservation of individual human life;
There is no prohibition in Arizona statutes against an organization receiving reasonable payment for the removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage and transportation of an anatomical donation for the purposes of scientific research;
We object to the faulty reasoning for introducing such hasty regulation. Regulation requires the demonstration of public need; protection of the public from health and safety hazards; consumer protection from unfair competition, and consumer protection from predatory pricing. Furthermore, to regulate an scientific process like cryonics, you need to suppose that a set of standards exists; that regulatory officials will have access to experts familiar with those standards; and that those standards have been communicated to all related organizations. None of these criteria have been suggested to exist;
It is the desire to make cryonics work that has motivated some of the most innovative work in the field of organ preservation. It has also been a factor (lesser, but perhaps significant) in the financing and research in nanotechnology. Alcor is contributing to the world in several significant ways;
The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act was created as a mechanism for people who wish to donate their bodies or organs for transplant or research. For the first time in history, the Arizona legislature is being asked to restrict this fundamental human right of terminal patients. This would set an extremely serious precedent, which is contrary to the intentions of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act and could result in Arizona being portrayed as a state which may not honor the wishes of people who are terminally ill. Research and educational institutions, which rely on the UAGA, may wonder if “they are next” and may feel tempted to relocate out of state. Medical institutions will have to study complex legislation in an effort to determine how it may apply to them;
None of this is necessary. The supposed problem which the bill addresses does not exist. Alcor Foundation uses procedures that are intended for optimal preservation of the human brain. These procedures have been mischaracterized and sensationalized in the press, because of actions by a disgruntled employee. Nevertheless, all details of the procedures themselves are thoroughly documented and freely available.
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
7895 E Acoma Drive, Suite 110
Scottsdale, AZ 85260