N.B.: This chronology of the Euthanasia Movement has been compiled from various web pages, including the following 78 Wikipedia articles:
Suicide (8 articles): Suicide | Suicide, Assisted | Suicide, Assisted, in the United States | Suicide, Benevolent | Suicide in antiquity | Suicide methods | Suicide, Rational | Suicide tourism.
Euthanasia (16 articles): Euthanasia | Euthanasia, Buddhism and | Euthanasia, Child | Euthanasia, Declaration on | Euthanasia device | Euthanasia, Involuntary | Euthanasia, Voluntary | Euthanasia, Legality of | Euthanasia and the slippery slope | Euthanasia in Mexico | Euthanasia in the Netherlands | Euthanasia in New Zealand | Euthanasia in Switzerland | Euthanasia in the United Kingdom | Euthanasia in the United States | Euthanasia, Religious views on.
Related Subjects (6 articles): Consensual homicide | End-of-Life care | Kübler-Ross model | Palliative care | Palliative sedation | Right to die (RTD).
Organizations, Pro (9 articles): UK Compassion in Dying | UK Dignity in Dying | USA Compassion & Choices (C&C) | USA Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) | Switzerland Dignitas | Australia Exit International | USA Final Exit Network (FEN) | USA Hemlock Society | International World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFRtDS).
Organizations, Con (2 articles): UK Care Not Killing | USA Not Dead Yet (NDY).
Persons (15 articles): Jacob M. Appel | George Exoo | Derek Humphry | Jack Kevorkian | Barbara Coombs Lee | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Killick Millard | Philip Nitschke | Timothy E. Quill | Karen Ann Quinlan | James Rachels | Betty Rollin | Kathryn Tucker | Peter Singer | Socrates.
Books, Plays & Films (8 articles): Book Final Exit | Film How to Die in Oregon | Book Jean's Way | Film Million Dollar Baby | Book On Death and Dying | Book Peaceful Pill Handbook, The | Play/Film Whose Life Is It Anyway? | Film You Don't Know Jack.
Laws & Court Cases (14 articles): Advance Directives Act | Advance Directives for Health Care | Advance health care directive | Baxter v. Montana | Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health | Death with Dignity Act, Oregon | Death with Dignity Act, Washington | Family Health Care Decisions Act | Gonzales v. Oregon | Groningen Protocol | Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (ROTI) | Terry Schivo case | Vacco v. Quill | Washington v. Glucksberg.
I also consulted the following on-line chronologies:
Title of Chronology Sponsoring Institution May 2004 On-Going "Right-To-Die Archives" Derek Humphry 1906 Nov. 7, 2011 "History of the Right-to-Die Movement -
Pivotal Events in the Right-to-Die Movement"
Final Exit Network (FEN) 1967 2011 "Milestones in the Modern End-of-Life Choice Movement" Compassion & Choices (C&C) 1906 2010 "Chronology of Right-to-Die Events
During the 20th Century & into the Millenium"
& Guidance Organization (ERGO)
5th Century BC Dec. 31, 2009 "Historical Timeline History of Euthanasia
& Physician-Assisted Suicide"
ProCon.org 1906 2009 "Chronology of Assisted Dying" Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC)
Right click any image to enlarge.
Circa 485-425 BC - In ancient times (circa 485-425 B.C.), Herodotus wrote: "When life is so burdensome death has become for man a sought after refuge."
|399 BC - Socrates [c469-399 BC] takes hemlock. "Socrates speaks his last words to Crito: 'Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please, don't forget to pay the debt.' Asclepius was the Greek god for curing illness, and it is likely Socrates' last words meant that death is the cure—and freedom, of the soul from the body."|
1851 - In "On Suicide," published in 1851, Arthur Schopenhauer [1788-1860] said: "There is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person." (H.L. Mencken, A New Dictionary of Quotations, Knopf, 1942, p. 1161).
1931 - Dr. Charles Killick Millard [1870-1952], the Medical Officer of Health for Leicester [1901-1935], gives the Presidential address at the Annual General Meeting of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. In the address, he advocates the "Legalisation of Voluntary Euthanasia", which prompts considerable debate in Britain involving doctors, clerics & the wider public. Millard's proposal is that in the case of terminal illnesses the law should be changed "to substitute for the slow & painful death a quick & painless one."
1935 - World's first euthanasia society, the British Voluntary Euthanasia Society, is founded in London (England) by Lord Moynihan [1865-1936], Dr. Charles Killick Millard [1870-1952], other senior doctors & clergy, including Canon Dick Shepherd [1880-1937]. The society creates "A Guide To Self Deliverance" which gives guidelines on how a person should commit suicide. The society is later known as EXIT & is now Dignity in Dying.
|August 17, 1935 - Charlotte Perkins Gilman [1860-1935] takes her own life. She was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle... In January 1932, Gilman was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. An advocate of euthanasia for the terminally ill, Gilman committed suicide by taking an overdose of chloroform. In both her autobiography & suicide note, she wrote that she 'chose chloroform over cancer,' & she died quickly & quietly."|
1938 - The Euthanasia Society of America is founded by Unitarian minister & Humanist Charles Francis Potter [1885-1962] in New York.
1954 - Rev. Dr. Joseph F. Fletcher publishes "Morals & Medicine," predicting the coming controversy over the right to die.
1957 - Pope Pius XII issues Catholic doctrine distinguishing ordinary from extraordinary means for sustaining life.
1958 - Oxford law professor Glanville Williams [1911-1997] publishes "The Sanctity of Life & the Criminal Law," proposing that voluntary euthanasia be allowed for competent, terminally ill patients.
1958 - Lael Wertenbaker [1910-1997] publishes "Death of a Man" describing how she helped her husband commit suicide. It is the first book of its genre.
1967 - The first living will is written by attorney Louis Kutner [1908-1993], & his arguments for it appear in the Indiana Law Journal.
1967 - A right-to-die bill is introduced by Dr. Walter W. Sackett in Florida's legislature. It arouses extensive debate but is unsuccessful.
1968 - Doctors at Harvard Medical School propose redefining death to include brain death as well as heart-lung death. Gradually this definition is accepted.
1968 - In his book "Why Suicide?," Dr. Eustace Chesser [1902-1973], a psychologist, asserted: "The right to choose one's time and manner of death seems to me unassailable. ... In my opinion the right to die is the last and greatest human freedom" (Arrow Books, London, pp. 123 & 125).
|1969 - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross [1926-2004] publishes "On Death & Dying" where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model. This opens discussion of the once-taboo subject of death. Kübler-Ross is a Swiss American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies & a 2007 inductee into the American National Women's Hall of Fame. In 1970, she delivered the The Ingersoll Lectures on Human Immortality at Harvard University, on the theme, On Death and Dying.|
1969 - Voluntary euthanasia bill is introduced in the Idaho legislature. It fails.
1970 - The Euthanasia Society (US) finishes distributing 60,000 living wills.
1973 - American Hospital Association (AHA) creates Patient Bill of Rights, which includes informed consent & the right to refuse treatment.
|1973 - Dr. Gertruida Postma, who gave her dying mother a lethal injection, is found guilty of voluntary euthanasia & receives a one week suspended sentence. There is a public outcry, and the furore launches the euthanasia movement in that country. The Dutch public argues that a doctor should be able to terminate the life of someone who requests such an action. A small but powerful group bonds together, firstly to support Dr. Postma, but secondly to strive for the possibilities of euthanasia. The Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (NVVE in Dutch) is founded in Friesland, a district in the north of the Netherlands.|
1974 - The Euthanasia Society in New York is renamed the Society for the Right to Die. The first American hospice opens in New Haven, Connecticut.
1974 - In his book "The Death of Psychiatry," psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., said this: "It should not be possible to confine people against their wills in mental `hospitals.' ... This implies that people have the right to kill themselves if they wish. I believe this is so" (Chilton Book Co., p. 180).
1975 - Deeply religious Henry P. Van Dusen, 77, & his wife, Elizabeth, 80, commit suicide. They are leaders of the Christian ecumenical movement & choose to die rather than suffer from disabling conditions. Their note reads, "We still feel this is the best way and the right way to go." Van Dusen is former president of Union Theological Seminary.
1975 - Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (NVVE) launches its Members' Aid Service to give advice to the dying. Receives 25 requests for aid in the first year.
|September 27-28, 1975 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Board Minutes (Policy #210): "The ACLU has opposed the definition of any behavior as criminal when such behavior, engaged in either alone or with other consenting adults, does not in and of itself harm another person, or directly force such person to act unwillingly in any way."|
1976 - The New Jersey Supreme Court allows Karen Ann Quinlan's parents to disconnect the respirator that keeps her alive, saying it is affirming the choice Karen herself would have made. Quinlan case becomes a legal landmark. But she lives on for another eight years.
1976 - California Natural Death Act is passed. The nation's first aid in dying statute gives legal standing to living wills and protects physicians from being sued for failing to treat incurable illnesses.
1976 - Ten more US states pass natural death laws.
1976 - 1st world conference of Right to Die Societies, Tokyo (Japan). This is the first international meeting of right-to-die groups. Six groups are represented in Tokyo.
|December 4-5, 1976 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Board Minutes (Policy #271): "We maintain that the act of consensual euthanasia is not illegal."|
|January 1, 1977 - "Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial," Celo Press, Burnsville, North Carolina (USA). By Ernest Morgan [1905-2001], son of Arthur Ernest Morgan [1878-1975]. Revised 14 times, up to & including "Dealing Creatively With Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial" in 2001.|
|1977 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Board of Directors: "Consensual euthanasia involves an act or an omission by a second person, at the request of an individual, for the termination of the latter's life when he or she is either terminally ill or totally and permanently disabled. The ACLU recognizes this form of euthanasia as a legitimate extension of the right of control over one's own body." From Euthanasia News, vol. 3, no. 1, Feb. 1977.|
1978 - Doris Portwood publishes landmark book "Commonsense Suicide: The Final Right." It argues that old people in poor health might justifiably kill themselves.
1978 - "Jean's Way" is published in England by Derek Humphry, describing how he helped his terminally ill wife to die.
|1978 - "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" A play about a young artist who becomes quadriplegic, is staged in London & on Broadway, raising disturbing questions about the right to die. A film version appears in 1982.|
1978 - 2nd world conference of Right to Die Societies, San Francisco, California (USA).
1979 - Artist Jo Roman, dying of cancer, commits suicide at a much-publicized gathering of friends that is later broadcast on public television & reported by the New York Times.
1979 - Two right-to-die organizations split. The Society for the Right to Die separates from Concern for Dying, a companion group that grew out of the Society's Euthanasia Education Council.
1980 - Advice column Dear Abby publishes a letter from a reader agonizing over a dying loved one, generating 30,000 advance care directive requests at the Society for the Right to Die.
1980 - Pope John Paul II issues "Declaration in Euthanasia" opposing mercy killing but permits the greater use of painkillers to ease pain and the right to refuse extraordinary means for sustaining life.
1980 - Hemlock Society is founded in Santa Monica, California, by Derek Humphry. It advocates legal change and distributes how to die information. This launches the campaign for assisted dying in America. Hemlock's national membership will grow to 50,000 within a decade. Right to die societies also formed the same year in Germany & Canada.
|1980 - Hemlock Society USA, Santa Monica, California. "Was a national right-to-die organization founded by Derek Humphry in 1980. Its primary missions included providing information to dying persons & supporting legislation permitting physician-assisted suicide. In 1992, following the publication of his book 'Final Exit,' Derek Humphry left the leadership of Hemlock Society USA. In 2003, the national organization renamed itself, and a year later merged with another group into a newly formed national organization called Compassion & Choices. A number of unaffiliated local organizations continue to operate under variants of the Hemlock Society name." Photo of Humphrey was taken in 2009.|
1980 - 3rd world conference of Right to Die Societies, Oxford (England). Official formation of the World Federation of Right To Die Societies (WFRtDS). It comprises 27 groups from 18 nations.
|1980 - World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies (WFRtDS). "An international federation of associations that promote access to voluntary euthanasia. It is made up of 46 associations from 27 countries. It holds regular international meetings on dying and death." /// "In 1976, Dr. Tenrei Ota, upon formation of the Japan Euthanasia Society (now the Japan Society for Dying with Dignity), called for an international meeting of existing national right-to-die societies. Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, the UK & the USA were all represented. This first meeting enabled those in attendance to learn from the experience of each other & to obtain a more international perspective on right to die issues. Two years later, a second international conference was hosted in San Francisco by the US-based Society for the Right to Die. The WFRtDS was founded at the third international conference. This was held in 1980 at Oxford in the UK & was hosted by Exit, The Society for the Right to Die with Dignity." Click here for a list of current WFRtDS members.|
|1980-1994 - "Hemlock Society efforts in California, Washington, Michigan & Maine are without success until the Oregon Death with Dignity Act is passed in 1994. Hemlock infused (under IRS rules) a total of $992,210 on six campaigns."|
1981 - Hemlock Society publishes how-to suicide guide, "Let Me Die Before I Wake," the first such book on open sale.
1982 - 4th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia).
1982 - In his book "Suicide in America," psychiatrist Herbert Hendin, M.D., [Suicide Prevention Foundation] says: "Partly as a response to the failure of suicide prevention, partly in reaction to commitment abuses, and perhaps mainly in the spirit of accepting anything that does not physically harm anyone else, we see suicide increasingly advocated as a fundamental human right. Many such advocates deplore all attempts to prevent suicide as an interference with that right. It is a position succinctly expressed by Nietzsche when he wrote, `There is a certain right by which we may deprive a man of life, but none by which we may deprive him of death.' Taken from its social and psychological context, suicide is regarded by some purely as an issue of personal freedom" (W. W. Norton & Co., p. 209).
March 3, 1983 - Famous author ("Darkness at Noon," etc.) Arthur Koestler [1905-1983], terminally ill, commits suicide in London a year after publishing his reasons. His wife Cynthia, not dying, choses to commit suicide with him.
1983 - Elizabeth Bouvia, a quadriplegic suffering from cerebral palsy, sues a California hospital to let her die of self-starvation while receiving comfort care. She loses, and files an appeal.
1984 - Advance care directives become recognized in 22 states & the District of Columbia.
1984 - The Netherlands Supreme Court approves voluntary euthanasia under certain conditions.
1984 - 5th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Nice (France).
June 11, 1985 - Karen Ann Quinlan [1954-1985] dies in Morris Township, New Jersey.
1985 - Betty Rollin publishes "Last Wish," her account of helping her mother to die after a long losing battle with breast cancer. The book becomes a bestseller.
1986 - Roswell Gilbert, age 76, is sentenced in Florida to 25 years without parole for shooting his terminally ill wife. Granted clemency five years later.
1986 - Elizabeth Bouvia is granted the right to refuse force feeding by an appeals court. But she declines to take advantage of the permission and is still alive in l998.
1986 - Americans Against Human Suffering is founded in California, launching a campaign for what will become the 1992 California Death with Dignity Act.
1986 - 6th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Bombay (India).
1987 - The California State Bar Conference passes Resolution #3-4-87 to become the first public body to approve of physician aid in dying.
1987 - Dr. Jack Kevorkian [1928-2011] starts advertising in Detroit newspapers as a physician consultant for "death counseling." In the 1980's, he writes a series of articles for the German journal "Medicine and Law" that lay out his thinking on the ethics of euthanasia. His first public assisted death will occur on June 4, 1990 (qv).
1987 - In his book "Suicide: The Forever Decision," psychologist Paul G. Quinnett, Ph.D., says "Research has shown that a substantial majority of people have considered suicide at one time in their lives, and I mean considered it seriously" (Continuum, p. 12). Nevertheless, thinking about suicide is generally speaking frowned upon and by itself is enough to result in involuntary "hospitalization" and so-called treatment in a psychiatric "hospital", particularly if the person in question thinks about suicide seriously and refuses (so-called) outpatient psychotherapy to get this thinking changed. The fact that people are incarcerated in America for thinking and talking about suicide implies that despite what the U.S. Constitution says about free speech, and despite claims Americans often make about America being a free country, many if not most Americans do not really believe in freedom of thought and speech - in addition to rejecting an individual's right to commit suicide. In contrast, the assertion that people have a right to not only think about but to commit suicide has been made by many people who believe in individual freedom. [Comment from "Suicice: A Civil Right" by Lawrence Stevens, J.D.]
1988 - In his book "Suicide," Earl A. Grollman says "Almost everybody at one time or another contemplates suicide" (Second Edition, Beacon Press, p. 2).
1988 - Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) prints "It's Over, Debbie," an unsigned article describing a resident doctor giving a lethal injection to a woman dying of ovarian cancer. The public prosecutor makes an intense, unsuccessful effort to identify the physician in the article.
|1988 - Right to Die with Dignity General Resolution. Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) adopts a national resolution favoring aid in dying for the terminally ill, becoming the first religious body to affirm a right to die. Text of resolution: Guided by our belief as Unitarian Universalists that human life has inherent dignity, which may be compromised when life is extended beyond the will or ability of a person to sustain that dignity; and believing that it is every person's inviolable right to determine in advance the course of action to be taken in the event that there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from extreme physical or mental disability; and WHEREAS, medical knowledge and technology make possible the mechanical prolongation of life; and WHEREAS, such prolongation may cause unnecessary suffering and/or loss of dignity while providing little or nothing of benefit to the individual; and WHEREAS, such procedures have an impact upon a health-care system in which services are limited and are inequitably distributed; and WHEREAS, differences exist among people over religious, moral, and legal implications of administering aid in dying when an individual of sound mind has voluntarily asked for such aid; and WHEREAS, obstacles exist within our society against providing support for an individual's declared wish to die; and WHEREAS, many counselors, clergy, and health-care personnel value prolongation of life regardless of the quality of life or will to live; THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Unitarian Universalist Association calls upon its congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists to examine attitudes and practices in our society relative to the ending of life, as well as those in other countries and cultures; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists reaffirm their support for the Living Will, as declared in a 1978 resolution of the General Assembly, declare support for the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and seek assurance that both instruments will be honored; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists advocate the right to self-determination in dying, and the release from civil or criminal penalties of those who, under proper safeguards, act to honor the right of terminally ill patients to select the time of their own deaths; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists advocate safeguards against abuses by those who would hasten death contrary to an individual's desires; and BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED: That Unitarian Universalists, acting through their congregations, memorial societies, and appropriate organizations, inform and petition legislators to support legislation that will create legal protection for the right to die with dignity, in accordance with one's own choice.|
1988 - 7th world conference of Right to Die Societies, San Francisco, California (USA).
June 1990 - 8th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Maastricht (Netherlands). (Faye Girsh & Derek Humphry are sitting in the hotel lobby in Maastricht when it is announced on TV that "some guy named Jack Kevorkian" has helped Janet Adkins to die.)
June 4, 1990 - First public assisted suicide by Dr. Jack Kevorkian [1928-2011]. Janet Adkins is a middle-aged woman Oregon woman with Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Kevorkian is charged with murder, but charges are dropped on December 13, 1990, because there is no law in Michigan (at that time) regarding assisted suicide.
June 25, 1990 - Its decision in the Case of Nancy Beth Cruzan is the first aid in dying ruling by the US Supreme Copurt. The decision recognizes that competent adults have a constitutionally protected liberty interest that includes a right to refuse medical treatment; the court also allows a state to impose procedural safeguards to protect its interests.
1990 - Washington Initiative (119) is filed, the first state voter referendum on the issue of voluntary euthanasia & physician-assisted suicide.
1990 - American Medical Association (AMA) adopts the formal position that with informed consent, a physician can withhold or withdraw treatment from a patient who is close to death, and may also discontinue life support of a patient in a permanent coma.
1990 - Hemlock of Oregon introduces the Death With Dignity Act into the Oregon legislature, but it fails to get out of committee.
1990 - Congress passes the Patient Self-Determination Act, requiring hospitals that receive federal funds to tell patients that they have a right to demand or refuse treatment. It takes effect the next year.
|About 1990 - Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC), 520 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 1220, Portland, Oregon 97204 (USA). "A 501(c)3, non-partisan, non-profit organization that has led the legal defense & education of the Oregon Death with Dignity Law for nearly 20 years. The Death with Dignity Political Action Fund is a distinct and separate 501(c)4 entity responsible for the political defense of the Oregon law & the promotion of death with dignity initiatives in other states. Our board of directors is comprised of some of the death with dignity movement's most esteemed medical, legal & scholarly experts."|
1990 - In a books-on-tape audiocassette version of their book "Life 101," John-Roger & Peter McWilliams write: "The consistency of descriptions from a broad range of individuals points to the possibility that death might not be so bad... Suicide is always an option. It is sometimes what makes life bearable. Knowing we don't absolutely have to be here can make being here a little easier."
1990 - In his book "The Untamed Tongue," psychiatrist Thomas Szasz asserts: "Suicide is a fundamental human right. ...society does not have the moral right to interfere, by force, with a person's decision to commit this act" (Open Court Publishing Co., p. 250-251).
1991 - Suzy Szasz, a victim of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, confirms this view in her book "Living With It: Why You Don't Have To Be Healthy To Be Happy" after an acute flare-up of her disease during which she contemplated suicide: "As many an ancient philosopher has noted, I found the very freedom to commit suicide liberating." (Prometheus Books, 1991, p. 226).
1991 - Dr. Timothy Quill writes about "Diane" in the New England Journal of Medicine, describing his provision of lethal drugs to a leukemia patient who chose to die at home by her own hand rather than undergo therapy that offered a 25 percent chance of survival.
1991 - Nationwide Gallup poll finds that 75 percent of Americans approve of living wills.
1991 - Derek Humphry publishes "Final Exit," a how-to book on self-deliverance. Within 18 months the book sells 540,000 copies and tops USA bestseller lists. It is translated into 12 other languages. Total sales exceed one million.
|1991 - "In 1991, Derek Humphry publishes the book 'Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance & Assisted Suicide for the Dying.' At first, commercial publishers refused to publish Final Exit, so the Hemlock Society self-published it in hardback. Within months it made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It was one of the few self-published books ever to hit the bestseller list, earning Hemlock over one million dollars net. In 1992, Random House took over publishing the paperback.|
1991 - Choice in Dying is formed by the merger of two aid in dying organizations, Concern for Dying & Society for the Right to Die. The new organization becomes known for defending patients' rights and promoting living wills, and will grow in five years to 50,000 members.
1991 - Washington State voters reject Ballot Initiative 119, which would have legalized physician-aided suicide and aid in dying. The vote is 54-46 percent.
1992 - 9th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Kyoto (Japan).
1992 - "The Right to Die: Policy Innovation & Its Consequences" by Henry R. Glick, Columbia University Press.
1992 - Health care becomes a major political issue as presidential candidates debate questions of access, rising costs & the possible need for some form of rationing. Bill Clinton campaigns heavily on health care before the pesidential election in November.
November 3, 1992 - Americans for Death with Dignity (formerly Americans Against Human Suffering) places the California Death with Dignity Act on the state ballot as Proposition 161. /// California voters defeat Proposition 161, which would have allowed physicians to hasten death by actively administering or prescribing medications for self administration by suffering, terminally ill patients. /// "When the votes were counted after the 1992 election, Initiative #161 had failed to pass by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Although the narrow defeat marked a temporary setback for Hemlock Society USA and its supporters, the fact that 5,500,000 voters had marked yes on their ballots was encouraging for the future." Quote from Cox (1993), page 178.
|1992-1993 - "In 1992, Derek Humphry leaves the leadership of Hemlock Society USA & later forms Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO)." "ERGO's mission is to provide information & literature on the right to choose to die by a competent adult, either by assisted suicide or self-deliverance. ERGO, incorporated under Oregon law in 1993 as a nonprofit educational organization, has more than 5,000 supporters (2009). ERGO maintains three web sites -- www.finalexit.org, www.assistedsuicide.org & www.assistedsuicide.org/blog -- & delivers an internet news digest focusing on right to die issues to subscribers around the world. ERGO's Bookstore distributes 'Final Exit,' the well-known 'how-to' book by Derek Humphry & contributes the profits to other right to die groups. Since 1999, ERGO has hosted the suicide device research group NuTech which meets in various world cities to examine new ways of legal self-deliverance."|
January 1993 - Task force headed by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is created to implement the Clinton health care plan. Its goal is to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans, which is to be a cornerstone of Prsident Bill Clinton's first term in office. But the task force's processes are somewhat controversial & draw litigation. Opposition to the plan is heavy from conservatives, libertarians & the health insurance industry. In September 1993, a major health care speech is delivered by President Clinton to the US Congress. By September 1994, the final compromise Democratic bill is declared dead by Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell.
April 7, 1993 - Death of Hillary Rodham Clinton's father, Hugh E. Rodham [1911-1993]. President & Mrs. Clinton publicly support advance directives & sign living wills after his death.
|May 31, 1993 - Dr. Jack Kevorkian [1928-2011] is pictured on the cover of Time magazine. "When TIME did its cover story on 'Dr. Death,' Kevorkian was about to participate in his 16th assisted suicide. By the time his own end came — in Detroit [in 2011], from kidney-related complications on the eve of the 21st anniversary of his first assisted suicide — the controversial physician was said to have had a role in more than 130 deaths."|
1993 - "Hemlock's Cup: The Struggle for Death with Dignity" by Donald Cox, Prometheus Books.
1993 - Advance directive laws are achieved in 48 states, with passage imminent in the remaining two.
1993 - Compassion in Dying is founded in Washington state to counsel the terminally ill and provide information about how to die without suffering and "with personal assistance, if necessary, to intentionally hasten death." The group sponsors suits challenging state laws against assisted suicide.
1993 - Oregon Right to Die, a political action committee (PAC), is founded to write & subsequently to pass the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
1994 - The Death with Dignity Education Center is founded in California as a national nonprofit organization that works to promote a comprehensive, humane, responsive system of care for terminally ill patients.
1994 - More presidential living wills are revealed. After the deaths of former President Richard Nixon & former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, it is reported that both had signed advance directives.
1994 - The California Bar approves physician-assisted suicide. With an 85 percent majority and no active opposition, the Conference of Delegates says physicians should be allowed to prescribe medication to terminally ill, competent adults self-administration in order to hasten death.
1994 - All states & the District of Columbia now recognize some type of advance directive procedure.
1994 - Washington State's anti-suicide law is overturned. In Compassion v. Washington, a district court finds that a law outlawing assisted suicide violates the 14th Amendment. Judge Rothstein writes, "The court does not believe that a distinction can be drawn between refusing life-sustaining medical treatment and physician-assisted suicide by an uncoerced, mentally competent, terminally ill adult."
1994 - In New York State, the lawsuit Quill et al v. Koppell is filed to challenge the New York law prohibiting assisted suicide. Timothy E. Quill loses & files an appeal.
1994 - Oregon voters approve Measure 16, a Death With Dignity Act ballot initiative that would permit terminally ill patients, under proper safeguards, to obtain a physician's prescription to end life in a humane and dignified manner. The vote is 51-49 percent.
|November 8, 1994 - Oregon Death with Dignity Act is "approved in the 1994 general election. 627,980 votes (51.3%) were cast in favor, 596,018 votes (48.7%) against. The act legalizes physician-assisted dying with certain restrictions. Passage of this initiative makes Oregon the first US state & one of the first jurisdictions in the world to permit some terminally ill patients to determine the time of their own death."|
1994 - US District Court Judge Hogan issues a temporary restraining order against Oregon's Measure 16, following that with an injunction barring the state from putting the law into effect.
1994 - 10th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Bath (England).
May 25, 1995 - Spurred by Prime Minister Marshall Perron, the Parliament of the Northern Territory passes the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (ROTI). Dr. Philip Nitschke is the first & only doctor in the country to use the law before it is rescinded by the federal Parliament in 1996. Bob Dent is the first man in the world to die under a law permitting assisted dying & voluntary euthanasia. Dr. Nitschke helps three other people die. [Item suggested by Faye Girsh.]
1995 - Washington State's Compassion ruling is overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, reinstating the anti suicide law.
1995 - Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense & Education Center is founded. Its purpose is to defend Ballot Measure 16 legalizing physician-assisted suicide. US District Judge Hogan rules that Oregon Measure 16, the Death with Dignity Act, is unconstitutional on grounds it violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. His ruling is immediately appealed.
1995 - Surveys find that doctors disregard most advance directives. Journal of the American Medical Association reports that physicians were unaware of the directives of three-quarters of all elderly patients admitted to a New York hospital; the California Medical Review reports that three-quarters of all advance directives were missing from Medicare records in that state.
|1995 - Judy Brown publishes "The Choice: Seasons of loss & renewal after a father's decision to die". Blurb: "Assisted suicide has become one of the most controversial issues of this decade, now headed for hot debate in American courts. Behind the daily headlines are the very human stories of grief & suffering, stories that cannot be ignored in the wake of a media storm. The account of a Michigan farmer & his family is a story that calls to be heard. With a terminally ill father requesting assisted suicide from Dr. Kevorkian, author Judy Brown found herself in the midst of these issues in a very personal way - dealing with bereavement, inner struggles, and, until now, a difficult secret."|
1995 - Oral arguments in the appeal of Quill v. Vacco contest the legality of New York's anti-suicide law before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
1995 - Compassion case is reconsidered in Washington state by a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel of eleven judges, the largest panel ever to hear a physician-assisted suicide case.
1996 - The Northern Territory of Australia passes voluntary euthanasia law. Nine months later the Federal Parliament quashes it.
1996 - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the Compassion finding in Washington state, holding that "a liberty interest exists in the choice of how and when one dies, and that the provision of the Washington statute banning assisted suicide, as applied to competent, terminally ill adults who wish to hasten their deaths by obtaining medication prescribed by their doctors, violates the Due Process Clause." The ruling affects laws of nine western states. It is stayed pending appeal.
1996 - A Michigan jury acquits Dr. Kevorkian of violating a state law banning assisted suicides.
1996 - The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the Quill finding, ruling that "The New York statutes criminalizing assisted suicide violate the Equal Protection Clause because, to the extent that they prohibit a physician from prescribing medications to be self-administered by a mentally competent, terminally ill person in the final stages of his terminal illness, they are not rationally related to any legitimate state interest." The ruling affects laws in New York, Vermont and Connecticut. (On 17 April the court stays enforcement of its ruling for 30 days pending an appeal to the US Supreme Court.)
1996 - The US Supreme Court announces that it will review both cases sponsored by Compassion in Dying (known now as Washington v. Glucksberg and Quill v. Vacco).
1996 - 11th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia). 1st George Saba Medal awarded to Marshall Perron (Australia)
January 8, 1997 - Oral arguments set for the New York & Washington cases on physician assisted dying. The cases were heard in tandem on 8 January but not combined. A ruling is expected in June.
1997 - ACLU attorney Robert Rivas files an amended complaint challenging the 128 year-old Florida law banning assisted suicide. Charles E. Hall, who has AIDS asks court permission for a doctor to assist his suicide. The court refuses.
May 8, 1997 - Oral arguments, Supreme Court of the State of Florida, Tallahassee, Florida (USA). BARRY KRISCHER, in his official capacity as the State Attorney of the 15th Judicial Circuit, Appellant, v. Dr. CECIL McIVER, M.D.; C.B. ("CHUCK") CASTONGUAY; ROBERT G. CRON; AND CHARLES E. HALL, Appellees. CASE NO. 89,837 ON DISCRETIONARY REVIEW OF A JUDGMENT OF THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, CERTIFIED BY THE FOURTH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL AS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE RESOLUTION. Introduction by Robert Rivas, Boca Raton, Florida: "I'm Robert Rivas for the appellees. We see the issue as simply being a matter of whether Charles Hall has a right to instruct the State of Florida to leave him alone, get out of his dying process. There are many ways to die. Many of your Honors' questions have raised many issues about subtle aspects of how to die. And the state says there's only one way in Florida that's legal to die for those persons who are in a condition that like such as AIDS, typically, AIDS or cancer that causes a long, slow and relatively predictable dying process: They are to submit to dying in a state approved script. They are to submit to suffering to a certain point. And at some certain point when their doctor and your Honors are not required to check your common sense and life experience at the door on the way in. We all know that doctors do not have candid discussions with patients about when they're going to die before they induce a condition that I'll refer to as slow euthanasia, induce a condition of incompetence, induce a condition in which the patient is incapable of taking a drink of water..."
May 13, 1997 - The Oregon House of Representatives votes 32-26 to return Measure 16 to the voters in November for repeal (H.B. 2954). On 10 June the Senate votes 20-10 to pass H.B. 2954 and return Measure 16 to the voters for repeal. No such attempt to overturn the will of the voters has been tried in Oregon since 1908.
|June 26, 1997 - "Vacco v. Quill (521 U.S. 793), is a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court regarding the right to die. It rules that a New York ban on physician-assisted suicide was constitutional, and [that] preventing doctors from assisting their patients -- even those terminally ill and/or in great pain -- was a legitimate state interest that was well within the authority of the state to regulate. In brief, this decision established that, as a matter of law, there is no constitutional guarantee of a 'right to die.'" /// "The Supreme Court reverses the decisions of the Ninth & Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington v. Glucksberg & [in] Quill v. Vacco, upholding as constitutional state statutes which bar assisted suicide. However, the court also validates the concept of 'double effect,' openly acknowledging that death hastened by increased palliative measures does not constitute prohibited conduct so long as the intent is the relief of pain & suffering. The majority opinion ended with the pronouncement that 'Throughout the nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest & profound debate about the morality, legality & practicality of physician-assisted suicide. Our holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society."|
1997 - Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (NVVE) reports its membership now more than 90,000, of whom 900 made requests for help in dying to its Members' Aid Service.
1997 - An historic decision of the Colombia Constitutional Court, written by the Chief Justice, Carlos Gaviria, permits assisted dying in that country. No regulations have ever been generated to implement it, but it is still going on. [Item suggested by Faye Girsh.]
1997 - Britain's Parliament rejects by 234 votes to 89 the seventh attempt in 60 years to change the law on assisted suicide despite polls showing 82 percent of British people want reform.
November 4, 1997 - The people of Oregon vote by a margin of 60-40 percent against Measure 51, which would have repealed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, l994. The law officially takes effect (ORS 127.800-897) on 27 October l997 when court challenges disposed of.
November 1997 - Measure 51, referred in the wake of Washington v. Glucksberg by the state legislature in November 1997, sought to repeal the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, but was rejected by 60% of voters.
|1998 - Dignitas (Switzerland). "Founded by Ludwig A. Minelli, a Swiss lawyer. Swiss laws provide that assistance to suicide is only illegal if it is motivated by self-interest. As a result, Dignitas seeks to ensure that it acts as a neutral party by proving that aside from non-recurring fees [and] they have nothing to gain from the deaths of its members."|
1998 - "In The Arms of Others: A Cultural History of the Right-to-Die in America" by Peter G. Filene, Ivan R. Dee.
1998 - "The Hemlock Society forms a side group called 'Caring Friends' to provide its members with support & guidance, nationwide, if they are terminally ill & ask for help to die. Its principal founders are Dr. Richard MacDonald, Hemlock's medical director, Faye Girsh, executive director, Wye Hale-Rowe & Lois Schafer, staff members. Strict guidelines are put in place to protect Caring Friends from legal problems, and it had none. (In 2005, 'Caring Friends' was renamed 'Client Services' by Compassion & Choices. MacDonald, Girsh & Hale-Rowe are now on the Advisory Board of Final Exit Network.)
1998 - Dr. Kevorkian assists the suicide of his 92nd patient in eight years. His home state, Michigan, passes new law making such actions a crime. It took effect September, 1 1998, but Kevorkian carries on helping people to die -- 120 by November.
1998 - Oregon Health Services Commission decides that payment for physician-assisted suicide can come from state funds under the Oregon Health Plan so that the poor will not be discriminated against.
1998 - 16 people die by making use of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, receiving physician-assisted suicide in its first full year of implementation.
1998 - Measure B on the Michigan ballot to legalize physician-assisted suicide defeated by 70 - 30%.
1998 - 12th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Zurich (Switzerland). 2nd George Saba Medal awarded to Sidney Rosoff (USA).
1999 - Dr. Kevorkian is sentenced to 10-25 years imprisonment for the 2nd degree murder of Thomas Youk after showing video of death by injection on national television.
1999 - 26 people die by physician-assisted suicide in the second full year of the Oregon PAS law.
2000 - Citizens' Ballot Initiative in Maine to approve the lawfulness of Physician-Assisted Suicide was narrowly defeated 51-49 percent.
September 2000 - 13th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Boston, Massachusetts (USA). 3rd George Saba Medal awarded to Derek Humphrey (USA).
|September 2000 - "In 2000, the Hemlock Society staged in Boston the 10th international conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFRtDS), which was attended by 483 people & had 66 speakers." Carlos Gaviria, Chief Justice of Columbia, delivers an "amazing speech." /// Image shows Derek Humphrey & his wife Gretchen at the world conference dinner at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel after he received the George Saba Medal for long activism within the world euthanasia movement.|
2001 - Kevorkian's appeal decision reached after 2 years 7 months. Judges reject it.
2001 - MS victim Diane Pretty asks UK court to allow her husband to help her commit suicide. The London High Court, the House of Lords & the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, all say no. She dies in hospice a few weeks later.
February 1, 2002 - Dutch law allowing voluntary euthanasia & physician-assisted suicide takes effect. For 20 years previously it had been permitted under guidelines. The new law makes Holland the first country in the world to allow euthanasia since Nazi Germany.
2002 - Belgium passes similar law to the Dutch, allowing both voluntary euthanasia & physician-assisted suicide.
2002 - 14th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Brussels (Belgium). 4th George Saba Medal awarded to the Dutch NVVE.
|October 30, 2002 - "Hospice or Hemlock? Searching for Heroic Compassion" by Constance E. Putnam, PhD, Praeger. "Putnam provides practical assistance to readers & their loved ones, simultaneously incorporating the abstract & theoretical analysis essential to examining how we die in contemporary Western society. She also presents the backgrounds of the Hospice & Right-to-Die (Hemlock) Movements. To elucidate the human side of the debate, Putnam profiles six important figures: (1) Dame Cicely Saunders [1918-2005], founder of the modern Hospice Movement, (2) Derek Humphry, founder of The Hemlock Society in the USA, (3) Herbert Cohen, an early leader in euthanasia circles in The Netherlands, (4) Timothy Quill, whose assistance in a patient suicide resulted in a case before the US Supreme Court, (5) Joanne Lynn, founder of Americans for Better Care for the Dying, and (6) Jack Kevorkian [1928-2011]. Another unique feature of this book is the application of philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson's general theory of rights to the very specific right to die. Pointing to potential compatibilities between the two positions, she concludes that heroic compassion does not require a final choice between Hospice & Hemlock - there may be room enough for both."|
January 10, 2003 - Annual Meeting of the Hemlock Society, Bahia Resort, San Diego, California (USA). A badge reads, "CHOICE: Every hopelessly ill mentally competent American should have access to the full range of end-of-life choices." /// The society advocates "choice and dignity at the end of life," according to its Website. /// "Those who have some indecision may have benefited from remarks by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong in a keynote address to conference..." Quote from Glenmullen & Lawrence (2007), page 85.
2003 - US Attorney-General Ashcroft asks the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal to reverse the finding of a lower court judge that the Oregon Death With Dignity Act l994 does not contravene federal powers. 129 dying people have used this law over the last five years to obtain legal physician-assisted suicide. The losers of this appeal will almost certainly ask the US Supreme Court to rule.
2003 - US Attorney-General Ashcroft asks the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal to reverse the finding of a lower court judge that the Oregon Death With Dignity Act 1994 does not contravene federal powers. 129 dying people have used this law over the last five years to obtain legal physician-assisted suicide. The losers of this appeal will almost certainly ask the US Supreme Court to rule.
|June 13, 2003 - "On June 13, 2003, The Hemlock Society USA name was changed to End Of Life Choices (EOLC). Soon after the name change, EOLC merged with (was taken over by) Compassion in Dying. The merge/take over process was publicly announced on June 20, 2004, when an 'intent to unify.' The merged organization began operating officially in January 2005 under a new name, Compassion and Choices (C&C). Click here for essay entitled "FAREWELL TO HEMLOCK: Killed by its name" which Derek Humphrey wrote on February 21, 2005.|
|2003 - Derek Humphrey publishes "Jean's Way: A Love Story." Same as the book he published in the UK?|
|June 2003 - "Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder" by Wesley J. Smith. Blurb: "Piercing the emotionalism, fear-mongering, and euphemisms of the assisted-suicide movement, Wesley Smith’s new book exposes the attempt to strip the sick and disabled of their human dignity. One of the nation’s leading writers on euthanasia delivers a badly needed dose of clear thinking and genuine compassion. // Through original reporting, exhaustive research, historical analysis, and extensive interviews, Smith makes a compelling case against legalizing assisted suicide. He explores the truly humane and compassionate alternatives that can change a death wish into a desire to live. // The first comprehensive response to the assisted-suicide movement, Forced Exit changed the debate when it was originally published eight years ago. Now thoroughly revised & updated to keep pace with the movement’s advance, this important book provides chilling evidence of how powerful and dangerous the death culture in America has become."|
|January 10-11, 2004 - New Technology for Self-Deliverance Group (NuTech), Seattle, Washington (USA). "Twenty of the world's experts on voluntary euthanasia & assisted suicide met to explore methods of hastened death that dying persons could use to 'self-deliver' without breaking the law or with help from a physician. Representatives from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Australia, Canada & America met under the auspices of NuTech founded in 1999. The Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO) was the host. The meeting was concerned to hear that a total of five different criminal cases were now outstanding in the world where people have been charged - or about to be - with assisted suicide or attempted murder. These cases are in Canada, New Zealand, France, Ireland & the Isle of Man."|
March 25, 2004 - "Resource for End of Life Care Education," Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (USA). "The content of this website was written primarily for health care professionals who work with dying patients & their families. The material presented on the site encompasses the complex, multidimensional considerations involved in caring for individuals at the end of life." Date is last update to website.
2004 - Lesley Martin in New Zealand completes a seven-month prison sentence for the attemped murder by morphine overdose of her terminally ill mother. Vows to continue to work for lawful voluntary euthanasia.
2004 - World Euthanasia Conference in Tokyo discusses and dissects the Living Wills (Advance Directives) around the world.
2004 - 15th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Tokyo (Japan). 5th George Saba Medal awarded to the Japan Society for Dying with Dignity. The George Saba Medal, awarded every two years to the person or organization that has done most during that time for the World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFRtDS), is awarded to the Japan Society for Dying with Dignity. The medal originated from money left in the estate of Dr. George Saba, a Japanese physician & long-time member of the Japanese society. He attended every international conference of the World Federation during his lifetime. The money was used to strike the medals to be awarded at future conferences. To date, the award has gone to Marshall Perron (Australia) in 1996, Sidney Rosoff (USA) in 1998, Derek Humphry (USA) in 2000, the Dutch NVVE in 2002 & now the Japanese Society."
2003-2005 - Hemlock Society USA is renamed End-of-Life Choices (EOLC) & within months is merged with Compassion in Dying to become Compassion & Choices (C&C). This causes the Final Exit Network (FEN) to be formed from the ashes of Hemlock to develop a system of volunteer guides across America to help dying people who request assistance.
|August 14, 2004 - Founder's Meeting, Final Exit Network (FEN), Chicago, Illinois (USA). Under the direction of Ted Goodwin. /// According to Dr. Faye Girsh, the ten attendees feared that Caring Friends would be emasulated after the merger between Compassion in Dying & End of Life Choices (nee the Hemlock Society USA) which occurred at the end of 2005 -- and they were right. /// The new name (Final Exit Network) "is half borrowed from Derek Humphry's famous books & half suggested by Derek himself (the "Network" part he named at the meeting in Chicago)." /// FEN is "a national, nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt corporation run by volunteers. As much as possible, it is a 'virtual' organization that communicates by internet & telephone. There are no plans to invest your dues or donations in costly staff or offices. FEN is a member of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies (WFRtDS). Gifts & memberships to Final Exit Network (FEN) are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law." Current mailing address: PO Box 665, Pennington, New Jersey 08534 (USA). Website: www.finalexitnetwork.org. Email: email@example.com. Main phone line: (866) 654-9156. NB: Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, is a member of FEN's advisory board.|
August 24, 2004 - Famed psychiaristrist Elizabeth Küber-Ross [1926-2004], best known for her book "On Death & Dying" (1969), dies at age 78 in Arizona.
September 16, 2004 - "A new right-to-die organization dedicated to serving people who are suffering intolerably from an incurable condition was announced today in Marietta, Georgia. Final Exit Network was founded by a group of dedicated individuals, each of whom has devoted many years to volunteer leadership in the right-to-die movement. Final Exit Network is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to serving people who are suffering from an intolerable condition. Network volunteers offer services that include counseling, support, and even guidance to self-deliverance at a time and place of a member's choosing. We will never encourage members to hasten death. 'Until laws protect the right of every adult to a peaceful, dignified death, Final Exit Network will be there to support those who need relief from their suffering today!' said Earl Wettstein, President. Final Exit Network goals:  To serve people who are suffering intolerably from an incurable physical condition which has become more than they can bear;  To foster research to find new, peaceful ways to self-deliver;  To promote the use of Advance Directives for Health Care [also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive or advance decision] with Durable Power of Attorney; and  To advocate for individuals whose Advance Directives are not being honored... Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, said, 'I believe so much in what they are doing, that I have agreed to let them use the title of my book Final Exit, as part of their name. I will actively support their goals now & in the future.'"
|December 12-13, 2004 - St. Louis, Missouri (USA). Final Exit Network (FEN) trains 15 exit guides "to be there for people who are suffering intolerably from an incurable physical condition that has become more than they can bear." Attendees include Ted Goodwin, Faye Girsh, Dr. Larry Egbert, Wye Hele-Rowe, Bob Brush & Earl Wettstein. Derek Humphrey, who had been at the founding in Chicago, had been invited to attend & speak, but was unable to this time." Image shows "our 'Wall of Fame' inside the conference training room in St. Louis. From left to right are Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Derek Humphry, Dr. John Westover & Faye Girsh. If we ever have a headquarters' building, we will have these & other pioneers honored in the reception area. It's important to remember their history."|
|December 15, 2004 -Million Dollar Baby. A sports drama film directed, co-produced & scored by Clint Eastwood & starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank & Morgan Freeman, in which the injection of an overdose of adrenalin to euthanize a suicidal quadriplegic woman is depicted as a rational & compassionate act. Protested by Not Dead Yet (NDY), a disability rights group that opposes assisted suicide & euthanasia.|
|January 2005 - "Compassion in Dying & End-of-Life Choices (EOLC) unify to become Compassion & Choices (C&C). The new organization maintains headquarters in both Denver & Portland & is the largest organization in the USA advocating for patients’ rights at the end of life" [quote from C&C website]. C&C is not a member of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies (WFRtDS); its five US members are AUTONOMY, Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO), Final Exit Network (FEN), Hemlock Society of Florida, Inc. & Hemlock Society of San Diego.|
March 31, 2005 - Terry Schiavo [1963-2005], who for over 10 years was in a persistent vegetative state, is finally allowed to die in Pinellas Park, Florida, Florida, by removal of life support equipment. There had been a huge national & international controversy over this passive euthanasia, involving the courts, Congress & President Bush.
|May 23, 2005 - "A Culture of Death" Scientific American magazine. "In the underworld of assisted suicide & euthanasia, Russel Ogden examines the means & methods - even as he is shunned by academia & chased by the law. 'I had a population in my backyard that had been living with euthanasia issues for some time,' recalls Ogden, who is believed by many to be the first researcher in North America to have formally studied the practices of underground assisted suicide & euthanasia. In 1994, Ogden published his master's thesis, which documented the inner workings of this illicit network. The findings shocked the nation & branded him one of Canada's most controversial researchers."|
2005 - First hospital in Switzerland (Lausanne) announces it will now permit the local right-to-die group, EXIT, to come into its wards to help a terminally ill adult who wants assisted suicide.
2005 - US Supreme Court decides to take the Attorney-General's case case against the Oregon Death With Dignity law. Bush administration wants America's only physician-assisted suicide law struck down on the grounds that states do not control lethal drugs.
2005 - Author Hunter S. Thompson ("Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas") commits suicide with gun at age 67, apparently tired of medical problems.
2005 - Vermont House Bill 168 (the Vermont Death with Dignity Act) is introduced by Representatives Malcolm Severance, William Aswad and David Zuckerman. Representatives of Death with Dignity Vermont hope HB168 will go on to the full House for debate before session end around the first week in May, 2006.
2005 - Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Gonzales v. Oregon (formerly Oregon v. Ashcroft).
2005 - California Assembly Bill 651 (the California Compassionate Choices Act) is introduced by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine and Assemblywoman Patty Berg. Legislative sources anticipate the bill will face a full Assembly vote before the two-year legislative session ends on August 31, 2006.
January 23, 2006 - "The Big Clean-Up: All Those Names Changes" by Derek Humphry: "I surveyed all the name changes in the world right-to-die movement recently. There is a rush to make their organizations' names more palatable, more acceptable to politicians & governments. But is it doing any good? ...Most people don't even think about 'euthanasia' (a generic term for all hastened deaths) until they or a loved one has a life-threatening illness. And now they must search around the lists of various organizations with 'Dignity' in their titles & find out which is the one they feel they need to know about. Not, I think, a recipe for popularity. Why not, as the old saw goes, 'call a spade a spade?'"
2006 - The Oregon Death with Dignity Act was challenged by the George W. Bush administration but is upheld by the US Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon in 2006. The court votes 6-3 to uphold the Oregon physician-assisted dying law, ruling that former Attorney General John Ashcroft overstepped his authority in seeking to punish doctors who prescribed drugs to help terminally ill patients end their lives.
2006 - Arizona State Representative Linda Lopez introduces two bills. The first one is similar to the law in Oregon & is called the "Aid in Dying" bill (HB2313). The second allows terminally ill patients to control their own medication depending on their pain (HB2314).
2006 - Rhode Island Representative Edith Ajello introduces House Bill No. 7428 (the Rhode Island Death with Dignity Act), modeled on Oregon's law. The bill fails to emerge from committee before session end, but Rep. Ajello says she is "proud to begin the discussion in Rhode Island" and anticipates growing support among Rhode Islanders "over the next few years."
2006 - Washington State Senator Pat Thibaudeau introduces Senate Bill 6843 (the Washington Death with Dignity Act). The bill fails to emerge from the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care before session end on March 9. Nonetheless, Thibaudeau said public education will be key to ongoing efforts in her state. Adding to prospects for a Washington death with dignity law are efforts by Booth Gardner, a popular former governor who is leading efforts to pass an assisted-dying law in the Evergreen State.
2006 - The Suicide Materials Offences Act takes effect in Australia, making it a crime to discuss or advise on euthanasia or assisted suicide by telephone, email, internet or fax. Books, ground mail and personal meetings not affected.
September 7-10, 2006 - Twentieth World Euthanasia Conference, Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto, Ontario (Canada). 16th Biennial Conference of WFRtDS. 7th George Saba Medal awarded to ?
|March 12, 2007 - "To Die Well. Your Right to Comfort, Calm & Choices in the Last Days of Your Life" by American doctors Sidney Wanzer & Joseph Glenmullen, Merloyd Lawrence.|
June 1, 2007 - Jack Kevorkian [1928-2011] is paroled after spending eight years & two & a half months in prison.
June 27, 2007 - "A one-time Unitarian minister who helped a Dublin woman kill herself in 2002 faces extradition to Ireland after being taken into custody on a federal arrest warrant. George Exoo was arrested Monday in West Virginia and was being held at a jail near his Beckley home. Irish authorities have sought his extradition since he admitted assisting in the suicide of Dublin woman Rosemary Toole at her home. Five years ago, Exoo told reporters that he & his live-in companion, Thomas McGurrin, sat with Toole as she swallowed crushed pills, covered her head with a plastic bag & breathed helium. He has said he gave her advice on how to commit suicide & helped her practice putting the bag over her head."
|July 1, 2007 -The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Australian doctors Philip Nitsehke & Fiona Stewart. "Describes legal & moral aspects of suicide & euthanasia. Provides how-to instructions for several suicide methods." The book is restricted in Australia.|
2008 - 17th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Paris (France).
|November 1, 2008 - "In Search of Gentle Death: A brief history of the NuTech Group" by Richard N. Côté. "This booklet examines the lives & achievements of a tiny group of people who banded together in 1999. Their goal: to develop simple, painless, legal end-of-life liberation technologies which enable those facing unendurable pain & suffering to die with dignity at the time & place of their own choosing. These pioneers formed an almost unknown group called NuTech [New Technology for Self-Deliverance]. This is the only time they have ever told their story, & they told it to only one writer, a social historian who lives in the American South."|
|November 4, 2008 - Washington State residents vote to pass ballot initiative I-1000, the Washington Death with Dignity Act, by a margin of 51%-49%.|
|November 2008 - Derek Humphry publishes "Good Life, Good Death: Memoir," Norris Lane Press. "Memoir of an investigative reporter & pro-choice advocate." Also described as " Memoir of how a writer became an euthanasia advocate."|
|February 19, 2009 - Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia is founded in Adelaide, South Australia. "Rev. Trevor Bensch [image], Baptist Chaplain at two major hospitals, has been the catalyst for the formation of this new group." /// "The group’s principal activity will be sending letters to Members of the Parliament of South Australia & making it known that many committed Christians support choice for voluntary euthanasia, holding it to be consistent with Jesus' message of love & compassion... Ironically, the main opposition to law reform arises from Christians in the fundamentalist churches. Their dogmatic approach is disturbing, and we are seeking to counteract this."|
|February 2009 "Four Arrested In Final Exit Assisted Suicide Case." Parts of a story by Michael King, Channel 11. Decatur, Georgia. -- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested two people on Wednesday in connection with the assisted suicide of a 58-year-old Cumming man last June. Two other people have been charged in connection with the death. GBI officials said the people arrested, Claire Blehr, 76, of Atlanta, and Thomas E. Goodwin, 63, of Punta Gorda, Fla, and Kennesaw, Ga., were tied to the Final Exit Network -- which they had been investigating since last June 30. According to officials, the GBI set up a sting operation at a Dawson County home where an undercover agent posed as a Final Exit Network (FEN) member to get their assistance with his "suicide." In addition, authorities in Maryland assisted by GBI agents have arrested Dr. Lawrence D. Egbert, 81, of Baltimore. Nicholas Alec Sheridan, 60, also of Baltimore, has been charged but is not in custody. All four suspects have been charged with Assisted Suicide, Tampering with Evidence, and violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act... After the Forsyth County arrests, law enforcement officials in Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado & Montana [& Illinois?] began executing search warrants & conducting interviews in order to locate & obtain evidence relating to the investigation of the Final Exit Network." Image shows one raid by police. Click here for videos from TV news broadcasts.|
|February 25, 2009 - "Final Exit Network (FEN) members Ted Goodwin, Claire Blehr, Dr. Lawrence Egbert & Nicholas Alec Sheridan are arrested for allegedly assisting the suicide of cancer patient John Celmer of Cumming, Georgia. FEN is also indicted on a racketeering charge. Opponents of the right to die hail the arrests. On the other hand, bioethicist Jacob M. Appel called the group 'courageous,' & bioethics attorney William Colby of the Center for Practical Bioethics questions whether 'trying to round up people in groups' is productive. On April 1, 2010, the four FEN defendants plead not guilty to charges of assisted suicide, evidence tampering & racketeering." This case had not yet come to trial. See "Final Exit: Compassion or Assisted Suicide?" by Paige Bowers, Time Magazine, March 2, 2009. Image from Time shows clockwise from bottom left, Thomas Edmund (Ted) Goodwin, Dr. Lawrence Egbert & Claire Blehr.|
March 3, 2009 - "A Brief History of Assisted Suicide" by Kate Pickert, Time Magazine.
March 5, 2009 - The Washington Death with Dignity Act goes into effect.
|December 10, 2009 - Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS) is established in Brighton & Hove (England) by Dr. Michael Irwin, a retired General Practitioner & the former Medical Director of the United Nations (seen in image), & several other right-to-die activists & humanists on interntional Human Rights Day. "The main long-term objective of SOARS is to get the law eventually changed in the UK so that very elderly, mentally competent individuals, who are suffering unbearably from various health problems (although none of them is 'terminal') are allowed to receive a doctor’s assistance to die, if this is their persistent choice. Surely the decision to decide, at an advanced age, that enough is enough and, avoiding further suffering, to have a dignified death is the ultimate human right for a very elderly person."|
December 31, 2009 - Montana Supreme Court rules in favor of Robert Baxter, stating that, while the state's Constitution did not guarantee a right to physician-assisted suicide, there is "nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy." Baxter v. Montana, was a Montana Supreme Court case, argued on September 2, 2009, that addressed the question of whether the state's constitution guaranteed terminally ill patients a right to lethal prescription medication from their physicians.
|February 25, 2010 - (England & Wales) "First prosecutorial policy statement about who will, or will not, risk criminal charges when assisting a suicide. Not a law but a big step forward." [Weblog of Derek Humphry] /// "Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer publishes a final draft of the 'Policy for Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide.' This policy is a formal guidance for the Crown Prosecution Service on the decision to bring charges in assisted suicide cases."|
|April 4, 2010 - Grand Junction, Colorado (USA). From KREX-TV: "'Final Exit Network: Stirring Debate Over Assisted-Suicide.' One woman’s speech in Grand Junction is contradicting many religious viewpoints. A group called Final Exit works to aid terminally ill people who want to end their time on earth through assisted-suicide. Dr. Faye Girsh, a psychologist, has been involved in the Right to Die Movement for over 20 years. 'People with a terminal or very serious illness should get medical help to die if that’s what they choose,' explained Girsh. Girsh believes people suffering from a fatal or irreversible illness have a basic human right to end their lives, 'People should be able to die with their loved ones present, gently, peacefully & quickly if that’s their choice.' Currently only three of our 50 states (Oregon, Montana & Washington) have laws allowing physician-assisted suicides. 'We would like to see every state have an option so that medical assistance can be provided,' said Girsh. But with the majority of states banning assisted-suicide, Girsh says the alternative is that elderly ill adults may still take matters into their own hands. 'They commit suicide, die violently, mostly by guns, & they die alone,' said Girsh. But certain religions stand against these views. Jean Cyr, a Christian, says it’s not a decision humans should make. 'We thoroughly believe that when it’s their time that God will take them and it’s His decision and it’s all in His hands,' said Cyr. While others support Girsh citting personal choice, 'I don’t like people to suffer, & I do believe that God will take them when He’s supposed to, but I do believe they need to have that choice,' said Chet Nash. In 2004, Girsh headed the Final Exit Network, a group offering support for terminally ill people who wish to die. While they do not encourage anyone to end their life, & don’t provide the means to do so, they do provide counseling. 'We are there when the person chooses to hasten their death,' said Girsh. Dr. Girsh spoke at the Unitarian Church on Grand Avenue on Sunday, explaining ways to make the end easier for patients family members."|
|April 14, 2010 - "You Don't Know Jack," a film based on Kevorkian's life, premiers at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. Kevorkian walks the red carpet alongside Al Pacino, who portrays him in the film. On April 15-16, Kevorkian appears on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°. When Anderson asks, "You are saying doctors play God all the time?," Kevorkian replies, "Of course. Anytime you interfere with a natural process, you are playing God." Director Barry Levinson & actors Susan Sarandon & John Goodman, who appear in "You Don't Know Jack," are interviewed alongside Kevorkian. Kevorkian is again interviewed by Cavuto on Your World on April 19, regarding the movie & Kevorkian's world view. "You Don't Know Jack" premiers April 24 on HBO television. [Item suggested by Faye Girsh.]|
|June 2010 - San Francisco, California (USA). Parody of a Final Exit Network billboard. "The Billboard Liberation Front (BLF) is honored to announce a new marketing partnership with Philip Morris (PM) that finally brings together the rugged sense of American independence with your most important choice as a consumer: your death. The message of 'My Life. My Death. My Choice.' informs and empowers the consumer to choose, as their god given right, how they want to die. Philip Morris brings this message to the consumer to remind them that some rights are inalienable in life as they are in death."|
September 25, 2010 - First Annual Lecture of the Society for Old Age Raional Suicide (SOARS) is given in Brighton (England) by the distinguished philosopher & educator Lady Mary Warnock.
October 2010 - 18th world conference of Right to Die Societies, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia). Richard N. Côté is a "featured speaker." 8th George Saba Medal awarded to ? /// WFRtDS Board Members & Staff for 2010-2012: Thomas Edmund (Ted) Goodwin, President (USA); Michael Irwin, MD, Treasurer (UK); Libby Drake, Secretary (Australia); Faye Girsh, VP & Newsletter Editor (USA); Aycke Smook (Netherlands); Cynthia St. John (Canada); Rodney Syme (Australia).
|January 23, 2011 - "How to Die in Oregon" released at the Sundance Film Festival. "A documentary film produced & directed by Peter Richardson. Set in the state of Oregon & covers the state's Death with Dignity Act that allows terminally ill patients to end their own life with medication prescribed by their physician (a form of assisted suicide)."|
|February 9, 2011 - "Chapter 331 of the Laws of 2010 (commonly known as the Palliative Care Information Act) amends the Public Health Law by adding section 2997-c, which requires physicians & nurse practitioners to offer terminally-ill patients information & counseling concerning palliative care and end-of-life options. Under the law, information & counseling concerning palliative care & end-of-life options must be offered only to patients with an illness or condition that is reasonably expected to cause death within six months. Palliative care, as defined by the law, is 'health care treatment, including interdisciplinary end-of-life care, & consultation with patients and family members, to prevent or relieve pain & suffering and to enhance the patient's quality of life, including hospice care.' The law is intended to ensure that patients are fully informed of the options available to them when they are faced with a terminal illness or condition, so that they are empowered to make choices consistent with their goals for care, & wishes & beliefs, & to optimize their quality of life. The law is not intended to limit the options available to terminally-ill patients. Nor is it intended to discourage conversations about palliative care with patients whose life expectancy exceeds six months. As discussed below, it is often appropriate to discuss palliative care with patients earlier in the disease progression."|
February 2011 - Society for Old Age Raional Suicide (SOARS) in England is accepted as a member of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies.
|February 2011 - Farewell Foundation, New Westminster, British Columbia (Canada). "For the Right to Die." "As part of its application for incorporation as a non-profit society under the Society Act, the Farewell Foundation is challenging the constitutional validity of s.241(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The Farewell Foundation says that the criminal prohibition against assisted suicide set out in s.241(b) of the Code is contrary to ss.7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and cannot be justified in a free and democratic society." Image shows Farewell Foundation director Russel Ogden.|
|April 15, 2011 - "Death With Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying & Euthanasia" by Robert Orfali. "Makes a compelling case for legalized physician-assisted dying. Using the latest data from Oregon & the Netherlands, Orfali puts a fresh new slant on perennial debate topics such as 'slippery slopes,' 'the integrity of medicine,' & 'sanctity of life.' Provides an in-depth look at how we die in America today. Examines the shortcomings of our end-of-life system. You'll learn about terminal torture in hospital ICU's and about the alternatives: hospice and palliative care. Orfali scrutinizes the good, the bad & the ugly. He provides an insightful critique of the practice of palliative sedation & makes a strong case that assisted dying complements hospice." /// From the book: "Large segments of society & the medical profession have now accepted that strict adherence to the preservation of life at all cost is not always desirable: It submits us to the tyranny of modern medical technology. About 20 years ago, passive euthanasia ('letting die') became a morally acceptable medical practice. One decade later, slow euthanasia ('terminal sedation') became a morally acceptable palliative practice. In the last 10 years, the fight has revolved around voluntary euthanasia ('physician-assisted dying'). It’s all part of the same moral continuum. It’s about the right of the individual to achieve a good death in the age of high-tech medical interventions that prolong life. It’s been a long & hard-fought battle. The good news is that we have now achieved some control over the medical machine with advance directives, hospice care & palliative sedation. Legalizing liquid Nembutal will complete the project."|
|April 21, 2011 - After a 2-week trial, "an Arizona jury acquits Dr. Lawrence Egbert in the suicide of Jana Van Voorhis, whom prosecutors said had help killing herself. Egbert, who also is indicted in Georgia on charges that he helped a Cumming man with cancer kill himself, was one of four people charged by Arizona authorities in Van Voorhis' death. Jurors could not reach a verdict for a co-defendant, Frank Langsner. Maricopa County prosecutors said the other two defendants in the case, Wye Hale-Rowe & Roberta Massey, had pleaded guilty to one count of facilitation to commit manslaughter & had agreed to testify in the case." Right image shows Dr. Egbert at his apartment in Baltimore, Maryland.|
|Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2011 - Final Exit Network (FEN) & Compassion & Choices (C&C) Booths, Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC (USA). At annual conference of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Left photo shows Dr. Larry Egbert (center) & FEN vice president Schera Chadwick (right) talking to a conference attendee. Click here to enlarge middle image.|
|November 4, 2011 - "Georgia passed its law in 1994, but not until now did its Attorney-General confirm that doctors are able to assist suicide of the advanced terminally ill provided there is no publicity." [Weblog of Derek Humphry] /// "Without fanfare, Georgia becomes the fourth state in the USA to legalize physician assisted suicide, the attorney general of Georgia discloses in a brief before the Supreme Court of Georgia. /// Until now, it had generally been thought - and has been repeatedly publicized - that physician assisted suicide was legally allowed only in three states: Washington, Oregon & Montana. The attorney general of Georgia’s interpretation of the Georgia law was disclosed Friday, November 4, in a brief filed in an appeal involving four volunteers for Final Exit Network, a group charged with violating Georgia’s ban on 'offering to assist in a suicide.' /// In preparation for a hearing scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 7, in the Supreme Court of Georgia, the attorney general, Samuel S. Olens, revealed his interpretation of the Georgia statute, which previously was thought to prohibit assistance in suicide. /// The attorney general of the state now says the law prohibits assisted suicide only in a case where the suspect also 'publicly' advertises, offers, or holds out that he will assist in a suicide. So long as a doctor does not make any public statement about his availability to participate in physician assisted suicide, the doctor has not violated the law of Georgia by writing prescriptions for lethal doses of drugs to enable patients to decide to die at the time of their own choosing. /// In arguing that the Georgia statute makes physician assisted suicide legal so long as a doctor keeps the practice confidential, the attorney general wrote, 'The statute leaves room for doctors and patients to make private decisions at the end of life and reflects concerns for doctors and other healthcare professionals involved when patients end their lives.' /// In a brief previously filed in the case, the district attorney of Forsyth County, Penny Penn, who is prosecuting the Final Exit Network and its volunteers, was even more clear in saying that physician assisted suicide is legal in Georgia so long as it is done confidentially. She argued that the statute, section 16-5-5(b) of the Georgia Code, was carefully and intentionally drafted to protect the privacy of a patient’s decision, when made privately in consultation with his doctor, to end his or her life. In her brief to the Supreme Court, Penn said, 'The legislature was careful not to enact a statute that would reach family members trying to make painful end of life decisions or family physicians making medical recommendations. Indeed, the intent of the Georgia legislature in 1994 was to allow citizens to make private decisions about their healthcare with their private physicians and their family members. What the legislation is intended to prevent is a Dr. Kevorkian-type actor coming to the State of Georgia and publicly assisting suicide.' /// Penn’s brief added, 'The statute was narrowly drawn to allow any and all discussion of end-of-life decisions, to allow private family and medical decisions to be made regarding end-of life decisions and only to restrict assistance of suicide by a Dr. Kevorkian-type actor. The statute is narrowly drawn to reach only those with a public agenda... In enacting this statute, the legislature considered banning assisted suicide in all circumstances, but ultimately determined that criminalizing all assistance of suicide would encroach upon the liberty rights of individuals to make medical decisions for themselves with their family and physicians... The statute is narrowly tailored to accomplish the goal of preventing assisted suicide advocates from assisting in suicide yet allows those who are intimately involved with a person to make end-of-life decisions without fear of repercussion.' /// [by Robert Rivas, General Counsel, Final Exit Network, Tallahassee, Florida]|
|November 7, 2011 - Supreme Court of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia (USA). Final Exit Network (FEN) attorney Robert Rivas (right) argues for the appellant, & prosecutor Penny Penn for the appellee. Chick here for videos of Rivas' & Penn's presentations & interaction with the justices. Click here for text of appellants brief, "FINAL EXIT NETWORK, INC., THOMAS GOODWIN, LAWRENCE EGBERT, NICHOLAS SHERIDAN, and CLAIRE BLEHR, Appellants, v. State of Georgia, Appellee."|
|November 7, 2011 - Final Exit Network (FEN) team at Supreme Court of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia (USA). First photo: Cynthia Counts (Atlanta attorney), L. David Wolfe (Atlanta attorney for appellant Nicholas Alec Sheridan), Marilyn Goodwin, Thomas Edmund (Ted) Goodwin, Robert Rivas (attorney), Ellen Barfield (wife of Larry Egbert) & Dr. Larry Egbert (appellant). Second photo: Attorney Robert Rivas being interviewed by the press. Julia Hanway Rivas took both photos.|
|December 2, 2011 - Woman Who Sold Suicide Kits Pleads Guilty To Tax Charge. "Sharlotte Hydorn, 92, a retired school teacher who garnered national notoriety for selling kits designed to help people commit suicide, pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego to a misdemeanor charge of failing to file a tax return. She will be sentenced Feb. 16 by Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal. Investigators said it was clear that Hydorn had no way of knowing if a suicide kit purchaser was simply depressed or a minor acting without the consent of a parent. According to court records, Hydorn sold approximately 1,300 suicide kits since 2007. Hydorn has attributed her interest in assisted suicide to her husband's demise from colon cancer in 1977. The death of a 29-year-old Oregon man who used Hydorn's product to kill himself late last year -- reportedly due to depression, not illness -- prompted senators in that state to unanimously vote last May in support of a bill that would ban the sale or marketing of suicide-oriented paraphernalia."|
|January 9, 2012 - "Ensuring Death with Dignity" by Wendell Stephenson, PhD, President of Final Exit Network (FEN), column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). Stephenson is an Exit Guide, Past-President of End of Life Choices & Philosophy Instructor at Fresno City College in Fresno, California. He joined the Final Exit Network Board in 2010.|
|January 18, 2012 - "After the death of Jack Kevorkian, Lawrence Egbert is the new public face of American assisted suicide," Washington Post Magazine, Washington, DC (USA). Lengthy interview with Larry Egbert of Final Exit Network (FEN). By Manuel Roig-Franzia. "The retired anesthesiologist from Baltimore has helped about 300 people commit suicide, but, he says, 'I never get used to it.' Lawrence Egbert, 84, estimates he has been present for 100 suicides in the past 15 years, which puts him in the same league with famed assisted-suicide maverick Jack Kevorkian. Egbert calls Kevorkian a 'radical' because the latter took an active role in some suicides. Egbert sees his own work as a calling and says he provides only guidance and support. But his zeal is tempered by self-doubt. 'Once I am a true believer, that’s the time I should quit,' he says one afternoon. 'I never get used to it. I’m not used to it now.' Egbert was acquitted in a case in Arizona, but another case looms in Georgia."|
|February 6, 2012 - Final Exit Network, Inc., vs. State of Georgia (S11A1960). Georgia Supreme Court unanimously strikes down the state's assisted-suicide law, finding it violates the free speech clauses of the Georgia and US Constitutions. The court's ruling means that four members of the Final Exit Network (FEN) do not have to stand trial on felony charges in Forsyth County. They were charged in connection with the 2008 suicide of 58-year-old John Celmer, who killed himself two years after he had been diagnosed with cancer... The court noted that the law only criminalizes those assisted suicides that include a public advertisement or offer to assist. Many assisted suicides are either not prohibited or expressly exempted, and the law does not render illegal all advertisements or offers to assist in a suicide... "Obviously, I'm relieved as are the other co-defendants," former FEN president Thomas Goodwin said Monday. "This is a bittersweet victory, because I'm saddened by what we've been put through... I'm also sad for all the people who would have benefited from our compassionate presence at their life's bitter end over the last three years." Once charges are formally dismissed, Goodwin added, "We'll move forward as activists in our movement...for all mentally competent adults."|
|February 20, 2012 - "Georgia high court strikes down assisted suicide law," American Medical News, American Medical Association (AMA). This story is riddled with errors. Click here for text of the the article. Click here for corrections by Robert D. Rivas, counsel to Final Exit Network (FEN).|
|February 27, 2012 - Atlanta, Georgia (USA). "Susan Celmer, the widow of a Forsyth County man who enlisted the help of the Final Exit Network (FEN) to committed suicide in 2008, testified before the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Monday. She supports a bill that would make it a felony to assist in a suicide, and physicians would also lose their medical license."|
|March 11, 2012 - "Oregon aid-in-dying advocate ends his life. Dr. Peter Goodwin, a Portland physician who campaigned for an Oregon law that allows patients with terminal conditions to end their lives, died March 11 at his home after using lethal chemicals obtained under the initiative he championed." National Public Radio also carried a brief story describing Peter Goodwin's death & his reasons for taking advantage of the Oregon law to end his life. /// Wednesday, four days before Goodwin's death, the Oregon Health Authority released its latest report on the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA): 596 people had exercised that right since the birth of the law in 1997.|
|March 2012 - World's first mobile euthanasia unit begins to operate in the Netherlands. According to the The Daily Mail in London (England), "the units will be dispatched when family doctors refuse to administer lethal drugs on 'ethical' grounds. They are expected to send the number of euthanasia cases in Holland soaring, with pro-campaigners claiming they will end the lives of an additional 1,000 patients a year. The units will euthanise patients by administering a strong sedative to put them in a coma, followed by a drug to stop them breathing. Officially, 2,700 Dutch people a year choose assisted suicide, but critics say the real figure is far higher. The launch of the first unit, which will consist of at least a doctor & a nurse, was confirmed on Radio Netherlands by the country's Right to Die Association (NVVE)."|
|March 27, 2012 - GEORGIA SENATE PASSES BILL TO MAKE ASSISTING IN A SUICIDE A CRIME, Atlanta, Georgia (USA). Statement by Robert Rivas: "The Georgia Senate, by a vote of 48 to 1, passed a bill at 7:47 p.m. today to make 'assisting in a suicide' a crime, punishable by one to ten years in prison. // The Senate bill was a reaction to the Supreme Court of Georgia’s decision, on February 6, 2012, declaring the existing law unconstitutional in violation of First Amendment free speech principles. The Supreme Court ruling terminated the prosecution of the “Georgia Four,” Final Exit Network volunteers who had been arrested and charged in February 2009 under the old law. The Georgia House passed a similar bill on March 7. Because the Senate bill differs from the House bill, the two proposals must now go to a conference committee before a final law can be enacted. // The Senate bill differs from the House bill primarily in that it brings the crime of “assisting in a suicide” within the orbit of the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) law. This designation would mean that any group of people who work together to commit the “crime” created by this law would also be subject to being charged with racketeering, which subjects them to long prison terms and the forfeiture of their assets. The RICO provision was specifically targeted at Final Exit Network, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Rep. William Ligon, Jr., said in the Senate debate. // Those who enacted the bill were told wildly sensational, demonstrably false stories about Final Exit Network. Ligon’s presentation of the bill featured statements that were not even supported by the worst of the allegations made by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in its prosecution of the Georgia Four. // Ligon, a member of the Georgia Bar, argued in favor of the bill based on statements that had never been heard before, not even by Final Exit Network’s most strident opponents in Georgia. His presentation reflected an abject ignorance of — or a calculated disregard for — the evidence and allegations presented by the GBI in its prosecution of the Georgia Four. Ligon said John Celmer, whose 2008 death provoked the investigation, was “going through a divorce” at the time of his death. Celmer was not going through a divorce. Ligon said Final Exit Network “ordered tanks of helium gas” for Celmer. Final Exit Network does not provide the means for anyone to commit suicide and would never order a tank of helium gas for anyone. The GBI never made this claim. Nobody who ever reviewed the GBI’s allegations could make this statement in good faith. “And then they would take a plastic bag and hook the tubes up to it and put it over his face,” Ligon said. // The fact is, Final Exit Network volunteers do not assist in suicides. Even the most accusatory allegations of the GBI never claimed that anyone from Final Exit Network ever hooked the tubes up to a plastic bag or put a bag over anyone’s face. But Ligon was just revving up his description of what the Final Exit Network volunteers, in his fictional tale, did to Celmer. // 'And they told him, ‘Now, as you start breathing in that helium, you’re going to have a natural reaction where you’re going to want to come up and take that plastic off of your head.’ Well, but they said, ‘You’re gonna have to sign a consent where you agree that once you put that bag over your head, there’s no turnin’ back. You can’t stop it. And we’re gonna hold your arms down so that you can’t remove the bag.’ Well, that’s exactly what happened. They turned the gas on, and as he reached up to grab the bag, his arms were held down, and he died.' The oddity of Ligon’s fable is that, if it were true, the Final Exit Network volunteers would have been committing first-degree murder under the existing law of Georgia. It did not seem to occur to Ligon that there would not be any need to revise Georgia law to criminalize the conduct he described. // In fact, Final Exit Network’s protocols prohibit everything Ligon described. The prosecution’s evidence in the Georgia Four case lent no support to his statements. In the prosecution of the Georgia Four, nobody from the GBI ever claimed that Celmer reached up and tried to grab a bag, or that anybody ever held his hands down. // Ligon said that an autopsy of Celmer established that his body 'was full of the helium' after his death. Of course, the fact is, no autopsy ever discovered any helium in Celmer’s body. The autopsy is a matter of public record for anyone, including Ligon, to review. The helium inhalation method of self-deliverance leaves no helium in a decedent’s body."|
|April 2012 - "In Search of Gentle Death: The fight for your right to die with dignity" by Richard N. Côté with a foreword by Derek Humphry, Corinthian Books. "In 2007, Dick Côté discovered that his old friend & Unitarian Church minister [George Exoo] had a new calling. He had become an end-of-life counselor & 'exit guide,' educating people about the ways of gentle, self-chosen death. What he learned while helping his friend avoid extradition to Ireland on an assisted suicide charge drew him into the world of those on the front lines of the battle to enable all of us to die with dignity. A loose affiliation of 59 organizations in 27 countries, the international right-to-die movement holds as its core belief that each person is inherently vested with the personal autonomy to make all the important decisions in his or her life. Côté’s book explores the modern history of the movement through the lives of its founders, leaders & activists. Using international personal case histories, it also portrays the often heart-breaking conflict between the final wishes of those who are living or dying in pain & the religious, medical & government authorities who will do anything to stop them from ending their own lives - & persecute those who help them. Côté based this unique book on five years of intensive primary source research & more than 100 in-depth interviews on four continents."|
May 7, 2012 - San Diego, California (USA). "A 92-year-old Southern California woman who acknowledged selling kits intended to help people commit suicide has been sentenced to five years supervised probation for failing to file federal tax returns. U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal also ordered Sharlotte Hydorn to not participate in any way in assisting suicides, including in the manufacture of devices or as an adviser to others on the subject. The conviction was part of a plea deal reached between federal prosecutors and Hydorn after investigators raided her home last year in El Cajon, east of San Diego. She pleaded guilty to the tax charge, but under an agreement with prosecutors she will not be charged in state court with involvement in six suicides. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter J. Mazza said the government opted to prosecute the retired school teacher for tax evasion because they felt it was the best way to stop her. There is no federal law regarding assisted suicides..."
|May 11, 2012 - Dakota County, Minnesota (USA). "Prosecutor James C. Backstrom is planning to secure grand jury indictments against Final Exit Network in the suicide of Doreen Dunn in Apple Valley, MN, on May 30, 2007. She suffered from permanent, incurable, painful, debilitating conditions that, her doctor wrote, made her unable to sit or stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, sleep for more than four hours a night, travel, work, or enjoy 'any social life.' She herself wrote that she experienced great pain from 'any pressure' or 'any movement.'"|
|June 13-18, 2012 - World Congress 2012, World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies (WFRtDS), Swissôtel Zürich, Zürich (Switzerland). "EXIT Deutsche Schweiz - on behalf of their sister society ADMD Suisse Romande - announced publication of the official WFRtDS Congress Website. Information about the program & other information will be constantly updated - so visit regularly. Registration is required - only online - before December 1rst, 2011." 19th world conference of Right to Die Societies. The 4th logo is Right to Die Europe (RTD Europe). Final Exit Network (FEN) is a member of the WFRtDS. Thomas Edmund (Ted) Goodwin (USA) has been president of the WFRtDS since 2010.|
|June 28-30, 2012 - Conference, Compassion & Choices (C&C), Chicago, Illinois (USA). "Join us for this remarkable opportunity to connect with other end-of-life choice supporters, caregivers & activists. Five hundred like-minded people will converge on the City of Broad Shoulders in early summer to expand our voices & extend our reach as a movement—nationally & locally. When Dear Abby opens our conference, you’ll want to be there. Her common sense approach to end-of-life choice will set the stage for our three days & two nights together."|
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