TWO WOMEN PIONEERS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
Forty years ago today Jean Humphry used physician-assisted suicide to end her life at age 42. She was in an advanced stage of cancer metastasized from breast cancer two years earlier. She fought to live, had three chemotherapies, and good pain control from caring doctors.
A few months earlier, after the cancer had nearly killed her, she asked me to help her to die. In l974 the subject of assisted dying was little known. So I asked Jean what she wanted me to do.
“Go to a doctor,” she replied. “Tell the doctor my situation and ask for a lethal overdose of drugs. Store the drugs at home and when I’m ready to die, and if you agree there is no hope, hand them to me and I’ll die.”
After studying Jean’s condition and wishes, a doctor gave me the drugs with which on March 29, l975, she took her life. The doctor and myself were both breaking the law of England but Jean was not because suicide is not a crime. Neither the doctor nor I were prosecuted although assisted suicide is still (2015) a felony in England.
Tags: aid in dying, assisted death, Assisted Suicide, assisted suicide laws, Brittany Maynard, choice in dying, Death With Dignity, Derek Humphry, Final Exit, hemlock society, Jean's Way, terminal illness