An important appeal from author Derek Humphry
The Final Exit Liberty Fund has been created to defend seven of the Final Exit Network’s volunteers from charges of assisting a suicide in Georgia and of manslaughter in Arizona. They have pleaded not guilty to all the allegations. All are senior citizens with unblemished records.
After you have read this page, I hope you will feel able to make an appropriate donation to the defense fund. (Non tax deductible.)
This is a case without precedent in America. It is hard to believe that this is happening in the land famed for freedom of speech, and where my book ‘Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying’ has been a huge seller for 18 years. Untold hundreds have used it to speed up their ends when their suffering became unbearable.
The Final Exit Network was established in 2004, a nonprofit corporation, with the mission of giving guidance – when asked – to people who cannot go on any longer yet need information and moral support in their dying process. Most people don’t want to die alone, and desire guidance at this awesome time. This kind of backing was pioneered by the Caring Friends division of the Hemlock Society USA until it was merged out of existence for other reasons.
Because lethal barbiturates such as Nembutal and Seconal are virtually unobtainable (except in Oregon and Washington where physician-assisted suicide is now legal) the Network mostly suggested the helium hood method of dying, as outlined in my book. It is painless, quick, and the patient, who has purchased the equipment, ends their life — if they wish — by themselves turning on the tanks of inert gas.
Inevitably, the cases against the Final Exit Seven will be a landmark in American law. Trial dates in Georgia and Arizona have not been set.
In pretrial motions, at trial, and, if necessary, on appeal, our lawyers will argue that one cannot be charged or convicted of assisting a suicide or manslaughter for merely providing information and moral support. Final Exit Network protocols prohibit the volunteer Exit Guides from providing any actual physical assistance in a death, which, until now, was thought to preclude them from being charged or convicted in any crime.
Indeed, our attorneys will seek to establish that all of the activities of Final Network’s volunteers are protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
We must have the best attorneys, properly prepared, to argue this case. And that, as you know, costs money which we do not have.
The Final Exit Network did have substantial funds, but in a shocking and unprecedented move the Georgia Bureau of Investigation applied that state’s racketeering law to seize and impound most of the Network’s assets. The racketeering statutes, or ‘RICO’ laws (for ‘Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations’) laws were created and intended as a tool for law enforcement to attack drug smugglers and gangsters. Imagine the absurdity of using this concept to label the Network’s geriatric volunteers as a criminal conspiracy to accomplish assisted suicides!
On top of this, on May 26, four of the Network’s volunteers were arraigned in Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix) and pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment charging them with manslaughter and conspiracy to commit manslaughter in the death of a Phoenix woman. Network volunteers were present when she chose to die in 2007. The helium hood method was her selected way of self-deliverance.
Larry Egbert, a well-known Baltimore physician, who is the Network’s medical director, faces charges in both cases. (See below for details of the defendants and the charges.)
Using data from computers confiscated during the arrests, police are fanning out across the country interviewing members of the Network and members of their families. Obviously they have embarked on a rogue campaign to destroy the Network by overwhelming its limited remaining resources even before the first defendant has a chance to stand trial. We must ensure that this unconscionable plan fails.
If, like me, you believe that the right to die in a manner and at a time of your own choosing is the ultimate civil and personal liberty, please help with a donation to our defense fund.
—– Derek Humphry 14 June 2009
Visit the defense fund site and pay via PayPal or Google Checkout www.finalexitlibertyfund.org
– or –
(to avoid charge card commissions) send a check or money order to:
Final Exit Liberty Fund
24829 Norris Lane
Junction City, OR 97448 USA
Contributions are not tax deductible.
The defendants in the Arizona case:
Frank Langsner, 83, of Scottsdale AZ, and Wye Hale-Rowe, 81, of Ann Arbor, MI, were indicted on May 26, 2009, on charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit manslaughter.
Dr. Larry Egbert, 81, of Baltimore MD and Roberta Massey, 64, of Cherry Hill, NJ, were also indicted for conspiracy to commit manslaughter. All four pleaded not guilty and were released under their own recognizances.
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office believes Jana Van Voorhis placed a plastic
hood over her head that was hooked up to helium tanks. Prosecutors accuse Langsner and Hale-Rowe of showing Van Voorhis how to use the hood and tank.
Egbert and Massey’s involvement in Van Voorhis’ death is through their work in processing applicants to the Final Exit Network.
Details of the charges and defendants in the Georgia case are in FAQ on the defense fund web page: http://www.FinalExitLibertyFund.org