February 26, 2004
To All Alcor Members,
I am happy and proud to say that Alcor, its members, and the state of Arizona have won a great victory today!
Early Wednesday morning, Barry Aarons, Tanya Jones, and I met with Representative Stump and several of his advisors for nearly forty-five minutes to discuss HB 2637. We were very pleasantly surprised at the openness and flexibility demonstrated by Mr. Stump in our sometimes frank discussions. During that meeting, we were able to successfully communicate to him the sincere concerns we had with his bill as originally proposed and why our membership was so strongly opposed to its passage.
It is our opinion that prior to this meeting, Mr. Stump sincerely did not understand the unintended negative consequences his bill would have on Alcor, its members, and on the science of cryopreservation as a whole.
After patiently listening to our concerns Mr. Stump expressed a willingness to modify several key provisions of the bill as a show of good faith to the constituents of this legislation in exchange for a commitment from us to continue dialogue for appropriate oversight of cryonics as practiced in the state of Arizona.
Since representation at the negotiation table is what we’ve been requesting from the day Alcor first became engaged in the legislative process, we were of course elated at the opportunity to sit with representatives of the legislature and their advisors in a spirit of cooperation and craft legislation that will provide the level of oversight legitimately required by the state while simultaneously securing protection for patient privacy, guaranteeing the constitutional right of self-determination of our members, and establishment once and for all the legislative legitimacy of cryonics.
At the conclusion of that meeting, Representative Stump demonstrated outstanding leadership and courage by agreeing in principle to consider amendments to his bill that would eliminate some of the most serious concerns of Alcor and its membership in a show of good faith. We were most impressed.
Today, literally an hour before the hearing was to begin, we received word that amendments had been filed and that Representative Stump was receptive to hearing the balance of our concerns that blocked agreement to a bill. After reviewing the amendments and exchanging negotiating points with Representative Stump that outlined some of our remaining issues we were able to secure the following understanding:
1. Alcor’s ability to utilize the UAGA was restored via amendment;
2. The requirement for an embalmer to store our patients or participate in our procedures was struck from the bill via amendment;
3. In addition, we committed to meet with all interested parties and seek agreement upon the following:
a. Expand the Funeral Board by up to two members to include experts in the field of cryopreservation or change the composition of the existing board to include up to two experts in the field of cryopreservation;
b. Require a cryopreservation expert on the staff of the Funeral Board to execute oversight;
c. To establish the statutory legitimacy of cryonics through a legislated definition of cryopreservation;
d. Define the scope of the oversight through legislation and not left singularly up to a rules committee;
e. To extend the effective date of the bill to September 1, 2005 to leave open our option of legislative redress in the unlikely event that appropriate rules cannot be agreed upon between Alcor and the Funeral Board.
Due to the good faith agreements obtained prior to the committee hearing in conjunction with the proposed amendments, Alcor reduced its opposition to passage of HB 2637 on the condition that agreement can be reached on the verbal understandings listed above.
It should be noted that several members of the Health Committee expressed reservations about having Alcor overseen by the Funeral Board, but conceded that if legislation were necessary, oversight would be placed there but the right would be reserved to find a more appropriate place to house cryonics oversight in the future. Moreover, many of the committee members reserved the right to change their vote when the bill is presented on the House floor if agreements cannot be reached on the aforementioned items. Our heartfelt gratitude, respect and admiration go out to the courageous Representatives who agreed to support our cause.
After the hearing, I had the opportunity to have some very constructive dialogue with Funeral Board representatives Randy Bunker and Rudy Thomas who both enthusiastically looked forward to engaging Alcor and finalizing the framework of the proposed oversight.
The progress of today’s hearing would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of a number of good people, including Barry Aarons, David Brandt-Erichsen, Saul Kent, Tanya Jones, Aubrey de Grey, and Steve Rude. In addition, we must thank all the brave souls who traveled to Phoenix to testify but were unable to do so due to legislative time constraints including Steve Harris, Mark and Judy Muhlestein, Ted and Bobby Kraver, Jim Lewis, and two organ preservation scientists who wish to remain anonymous.
We must also thank those members who attended the hearing as a public show of support for Alcor. Lastly, but certainly not least, we must thank all of the members who took time away from their busy schedules to email, fax, and call Arizona state legislators, urging them to oppose this bill. When they revealed to us that they were receiving from 150-200 emails per day, we realized that you all really made a difference! Thank you!!!
Alcor Life Extension Foundation