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The Green Valley News, in Arizona, printed the following on 27 November 2013. By Ellen Sussman.

The tough subject of being in charge of one’s own death when a debilitating or painful end is inevitable brought about 300 people out in Saturday morning’s rain to hear Final Exit Network and Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry.

Humphry, who has been involved in the right-to-die movement since the 1970s, said there is still much work to be done.

In May, Vermont became the fourth state to allow permanently ill patients to seek a lethal dose of medication to hasten their own deaths. It was the first state to approve the right to die through state lawmakers. Oregon and Washington enacted laws through a voter referendum; the Montana Supreme Court made it legal there.

Humphry, speaking to a sympathetic audience, said once doctors realize assisted suicide can be done legally without having their name on a death certificate it gains acceptance.

He said a person needs to have an overall picture of what is going on in their mind when considering an end to life and spoke of one’s right “to die peacefully and gracefully within the law.”

Humphry became interested in the topic in the early 1970s when his wife, Jean, was terminally ill. Two years later he wrote a book about the subject, “Jean’s Way,” and said the first printing of 5,000 books sold out in a week. It has since become a classic in the right-to-die movement, which sees Humphry as its chief banner carrier.

Humphry believes there is a need to change state laws that stand in the way of a person’s right to die and added, “It will take team work of doctors, lawyers and nurses to push a law through.”

Final Exit Network’s guide specifies criteria for ending one’s life: a person must be cognitively functional, be physically strong enough to do the required tasks, have an incurable condition that causes intolerable pain, understand the “window of opportunity” while still having mental and physical capability to be able to obtain required items and be approved by FEN’s medical director.

Final Exit Network has no offices or staff. It is run solely by volunteers who work from home.

“We’re here to help people in a caring way within the law,” Humphry said.

Web site: www.finalexitnetwork.org or call 866-654-9156

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