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Andrew Barkley writes to ERGO: I’m an author and someone living with a critical illness. I’ve recently written a poem in support of ‘dignity in dying’.

Ode to Life – TIME

Life is retiring me, how am I to cope?

Futile now it seems, my last lifeline of hope

What is to become of me, this frail life I behold

Soon I will need to be bathed, fed, and clothed

Society imposes on me, to gracefully grow old

To let mother nature decide my fate, so I am told

Where is the grace in dying, my body indisposed

Shall I call time on this lifeline, for whom the bell tolls.


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World Radio Switzerland reported 16 August 2011:

TV host’s assisted suicide in Zurich shines light on taboo in Israel

Assisted suicide is a topic that often gets coverage in Switzerland’s national media, but in Israel, the subject is taboo. In recent days, that taboo has been brought into the open, following news that a high-profile television and radio presenter, Avi Talmor, traveled to Switzerland to end his life with the help of assisted dying group, Dignitas.

Talmor wrote a series of accounts, explaining his decision, which goes against Israeli law and the Jewish faith.

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Some people wonder if the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, is genuine and reliable because it often gets a bad press from right-wing newspapers in Europe.

I consider Dignitas to be a reputable organization, doing a great service to humanity. I know doctors and researchers who have spent time there and studied the operation.. Their verdict is favorable. I have met Mr Minelli, who is the boss, at a conference in Paris and he struck me as a thoughtful man of integrity

Dignitas has many opponents, particularly in the news media, which concocts or exaggerates stories about their work.

If I needed their services I would use Dignitas. www.Dignitas.ch

——-Derek Humphry, www.finalexit.org

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PHOENIX, Ariz. — The last of the four criminal cases in Phoenix has been resolved without a trial.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict during the trial last April of Final Exit Network volunteer exit guide Frankin R. Langsner, of Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix. A retrial had been scheduled to take place in August. Instead, however, the State gave Langsner the opportunity to plead “guilty” to a minor charge. He entered the negotiated guilty plea in June.
The Phoenix police had charged Langsner, 86, with two serious felonies, “manslaughter” by aiding in a suicide and “conspiracy” to commit manslaughter, in connection with the self-deliverance of Jana Van Voorhis, 58, at her Phoenix home on April 12, 2007.
In the plea-bargain, the Maricopa County prosecutor’s office agreed to let Langsner plead guilty to one count of “endangerment,” and dropped the serious charges. “Endangerment” is a minimal felony, but under the terms of Continue Reading »

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The Swiss government has dropped a plan to impose stricter rules for assisted suicide.
Switzerland has long permitted “passive assisted suicide,” where someone can give another person the means to kill themselves provided the helper doesn’t personally benefit from the death.
The government said Wednesday that existing laws provide enough safeguards to prevent abuse without giving the impression that the government approves the work of suicide groups such as Dignitas.
Some lobby groups abroad have called on Switzerland to ban what they term “suicide tourism” by preventing foreigners from using the groups’ services.
The government says the current rules strike a balance between protecting vulnerable individuals and safeguarding their right to self-determination. (From AP report)

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Published in the Eugene Register-Guard, Oregon, Jun 28, 2011

Right-to-die is gaining ground
The Oregon Legislature has taken a backhoe to crush a hen’s egg in the case of the helium hood kits for sale. Dozens of Oregonians have already stocked up with their kits. What the legislators, the FBI and the media don’t understand is that in this age of stressful modern medicine, longer living and degenerative diseases, a lot of people plan in advance to speed up their end if need be.

They may not in the end choose to kill themselves. But they want insurance against a protracted, painful, expensive death that is putting awful strains on the family. When they have a stash of lethal drugs or a helium hood kit it is a great consolation for far more people than is realized.

Evidence of that trend in advance health thinking is that the right-to-die groups in America and around the world were never stronger in leadership, membership or finances. Step by step the movement is getting physician-assisted suicide laws in place — 10 places so far. Other nations and states, most notably the United Kingdom and Australia, are close to reforming their laws on euthanasia.

That a few mentally troubled people sometimes use drugs or the kits to end their agony is a fact of human life. Yet must the 2 1/2 million Americans who die annually be deprived of possibly choosing a peaceful death because of the 31,000 who annually commit suicide?
Derek Humphry, Junction City, Oregon

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The Oregon Senate voted unanimously for the second time Thursday to adopt SB 376, which outlaws the selling of “any substance or object, that is capable of causing death” to another person with the expectation that it will be used to assist that person to commit suicide. The Governor still has to sign it.
The immediate effect of the new Oregon law is to prohibit the sale of a particular type of suicide kit manufactured and sold via mail order by a small company, The GLADD Group in Southern California. Owner Sharlotte Hydorn, 91, said that she is “not against Oregon passing its law — it’s a wonderful country.”
Hydorn markets her suicide kit, which consists of a plastic bag and plastic tubing intended to be connected to helium tankS, throughout the United States as well as internationally, including Canada, England, Brazil, Israel and Singapore, she said.
However, at the moment her business is closed, following a raid by the FBI on May 25, during which her computer system, sewing machines and materials for making and mailing the suicide kits were confiscated.

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The purpose of the police or sheriff making ‘wellness visits’ is to find out if a person has taken their life, or intending to. Such visits are lawful under US health laws; they are not criminal inquiries because suicide is not a crime.
A person does not have to let them indoors unless they have a valid search warrant. Advisable just pleasantly to assure them in the doorway that everything is fine, thank you, and suicide is not currently contemplated — that connecting with GLADD was merely a precaution against a FUTURE unbearable terminal illness.
The FBI and police seem not to understand that many thoughtful people plan well in advance — while still healthy –against a future terminal or hopeless illness. (Why else has “Final Exit” sold over a million copies?)
In the more than ten cases reported to me so far (there are probably many more) the wellness visits have ended satisfactorily once the law enforcement people have been assured that no hasty self-deliverance is contemplated.
One man tells me that he wrote a letter of support to Sharlotte Hydorn after the 25 May FBI raid which closed her operation down, and within days had the ‘wellness police’ at his door. He had ordered or paid nothing, just sympathized.
This GLADD imbroglio has happened because, while the helium hood kit was developed by me and others in 2001 exclusively as a choice for terminal, competent adults, it turned out that many persons who are mentally troubled, or clinically depressed, spotted this different method of suicide and began to order the kits. This was by no means intended. I regret this development.
I wonder why gunshops are not similarly under attack, as most suicidal American men shoot themselves?
Derek Humphry
(jnlst & author) 15 June 2011

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The FBI is asking police throughout America to check up on people who have recently ordered helium hood kits from GLADD in southern California, run by Sharlotte Hydorn. So far we know of six cases. These are what the cops call ‘wellness checks’ — actually to see if the person has [or about to] kill themselves.
So if you ordered from GLADD don’t be surprised to get a police visit. Tell them you are fine, thank you, and decline their offer to be taken to a therapist (as has happened).
Tell this blog if you get such a visit from law enforcement.

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ALERT – a stranger at your door?
If you purchased or ordered a helium hood kit from the GLADD Group in southern California, it is possible that police will call to check up on you shortly.
Local police, under FBI direction, have already visited two women (in Hillsboro, Oregon, and in Los Angeles) and questioned them about their health and circumstances. Each woman had recently placed an order for a helium hood kit but not received it. (Many were confiscated in the FBI raid on Sharlotte Hydorn’s home on 25 May. She made them on her sewing machine – confiscated – and recorded on her computer hard drive, also seized.)
A lawyer friendly to the right-to-die movement tells ERGO:
“The cops do not need a warrant to do a mental health check. If they have information that a person is a serious and imminent threat to herself or others, it is legal for them to visit, speak, and make such checks as are necessary and appropriate to make sure the person is not a serious and imminent threat to herself or others. From the information about the Los Angeles visit, and the other one in Oregon, there is no indication they are asking any questions intended to gather information to prosecute Sharlotte Hydorn or anyone else. They don’t need any more information from these “victims” to prosecute Hydorn.
“If the LA woman had the presence of mind to refuse to let the cops into her home, it’s a question whether they could have entered over her objection. I doubt it. But it’s important to remember that, if the cops are challenged, their answer will be that everything they did was consensual. They asked if she would let them in; she let them in; they asked her questions; she answered them.
“When they walked around, looked at stuff, opened the refrigerator door, she did not object. When people let cops in, let them look around, or answer their questions voluntarily, there is no violation of anybody’s rights.
“The police can stop by the home of anybody in America, ask to come in, ask questions, and so forth, and it violates nobody’s rights.” unquote
THEREFORE, if you ordered a kit from GLADD don’t be surprised if you
get a call from local law enforcement. If you are visited, maybe inform ERGO at ergo@finalexit.org
—- Derek Humphry, Junction City, OR journalist & author 06.12.11

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