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Final Exit Network doctor found not guilty

A jury found the medical director of Final Exit Network, a national right-to-die group, innocent of conspiring to assist in a suicide, but could not reach a verdict as to one of the organization’s “exit guides.”

The Maricopa County Superior Court jury deliberated from Tuesday through Thursday before finding Dr. Lawrence D. Egbert, 83, of Baltimore, the Network’s volunteer medical director, not guilty of conspiracy to commit manslaughter by aiding in a suicide.

The eight-member jury could not reach a unanimous verdict as to Franklin R. Langsner, 86, a suburban Phoenix resident and “exit guide” for the Network, who was charged with manslaughter by aiding in a suicide and with conspiracy. The jury voted 7 to 1 to acquit Langsner of conspiracy, and 4-4 to acquit him of aiding in a suicide.

Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society USA and author of ‘Final Exit,‘ said: “These results are excellent news. They mark a significant turning point in the long march to achieve everybody’s right to choose to die.”

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The attempt by a few right-wingers to make everybody who uses the Oregon Death With Dignity Act for physician-assisted suicide take a mental health check first, has collapsed.
The Eugene Register-Guard newspaper reports 7 April 2011, when surveying the present legislature’s work:
“Some divisive bills don’t even make it to the public hearing stage.
House Bill 2016, which would modify Oregon’s Death With Dignity law to
require patients seeking life-ending medication to undergo counseling,
has seen no activity –no hearing or work session — since it was
referred to the House Health Care Committee in late March.”
Thus this Bill expires at the end of this week.

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Last Wish Granted, the Colombian organization that has been quietly referring their members in Colombia to physicians for end of life consultations, has accepted their first international member for a medical referral.
Last Wish Granted follows the guidelines put in place by the Constitutional Court of Colombia’s C-239-97 decision which disallows criminal penalties to physicians who have medically assisted a patient to die if the terminal patient has expressed his unequivocal wish to die.
Asked about the legality of accepting foreign nationals into their membership ranks, Carlos Martel, Director of Last Wish Granted, says, “For years, Colombia has been a destination of choice for patients who take advantage of its excellent practitioners and superior medical infrastructure. No one has to be a Colombian national to take advantage of those services and they don’t have to be for these either, specially since the Constitutional Court did not address the nationality of the terminal patient in their landmark 1997 decision. It is simply not an issue. ”
In order to be referred to a physician for a consultation, you are required to be a member of Last Wish Granted, send a complete medical history about your actual medical condition, and, be accepted by the physician for a consultation.
For further inquiries, write to: ContactLWG@yahoo.com

—Carlos Martel, Director, Last Wish Granted

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Nan Maitland, a founder of a group supporting elderly suicide, has taken her life to avoid prolonged suffering in her old age. She suffered from severe arthritis.
Maitland, born in 1926, used to live in Kent, where she brought up her three children before moving to London 40 years ago. She dispensed advice on suicide from her home in Chelsea. Recently, she turned her administrative skills to arranging her own death.
At the end of February she calmly and without visible emotion said goodbye to her loved ones and left London for Switzerland with two fellow right-to-die campaigners. She left behind her three children and a sister. Her husband, from whom she was separated, is also understood still to be alive.
In a note, Maitland wrote to friends: “For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and, over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less. I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called ‘prolonged dwindling‘, that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.”
Maitland was a founder member of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (Soars) UK which campaigns for the law to allow elderly people to have doctor-assisted suicides, even if they are not terminally ill.
There are two organisations offering death to foreigners in Switzerland. Dignitas and Ex International, a smaller clinic in Bern. Dignitas, founded in 1998 by the lawyer Ludwig Minelli, has so far helped more than 1,000 people die, including at least 115 Britons.

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Nine conservative Oregon legislators have introduced legislation
to undermine the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. They want to enact an assumption that any terminally ill patient who requests aid in dying is
mentally unfit.
It is House Bill 2016. (It failed to get out of committee.)
No evidence exists that any patient with impaired judgment has taken
life-ending medication under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. It is
working as intended, safely delivering choice and control to dying
Sixty percent of Oregonians voted for the Death with Dignity Act in 1997, and this bill would undermine the will of the people. Current law lets terminally ill patients request aid in dying from their physician without an automatic presumption of mental illness and mental incapacity. Oregon physicians are already required to certify that eligible patients exhibit no signs of depression or psychological disorder causing impaired judgment.
Compassion and Choices of Oregon will vigorously fight this bill.

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The Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon carried a lengthy article on Sunday, 20 March, 2011, reporting the death of a man using a helium hood kit purchased from GLADD
group in California. A rather sour article but informative to those who might not know about the background. Of course the death of this man is sad, and hard for his family, but the paper skimps the details of his illness or order to imply that self-deliverance was not necessary and that the helium hood kit was to blame.

Too long to give the article here, but worth reading it at

(The mailing address for GLADD, should you need it because the newspaper does not give it, is 3755 Avocado Blvd #166, La Mesa, CA 91941. It costs $60. No internet or phone connection.)

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Vancouver, B.C. February 21, 2011

The Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die commenced a constitutional challenge to the validity of s.241(b) of the Criminal Code this morning. Section 241(b) enacts the offence of aiding and abetting suicide, which is punishable by a term of incarceration of up to 14 years.

The Farewell Foundation is a non-profit organization that proposes to assist its members in ending their lives humanely. There is no other such organization in Canada. The Farewell Foundation has applied to the Registrar of Companies for incorporation as a non-profit society under the BC Society Act. Under s.2 of the Society Act, the Registrar may incorporate a non-profit society for any “lawful purpose”. The Farewell Foundation argues that its purposes are lawful because the prohibition against assisted suicide is constitutionally invalid pursuant to sections 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Canada has changed since the Supreme Court of Canada decided the Rodriguez case in 1993,” said Russel Ogden, one of the founding directors of the Farewell Foundation. “The vast majority of Canadians now believe that it should be lawful to provide assistance to people to allow them to end their lives without prolonged suffering. The experience in Washington, Oregon, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands demonstrates that transparent and accountable end of life regulations are possible, without eroding our respect for human life. Section 241(b) prevents Canadians from making the most fundamental choice of ending their own lives, and it needlessly protracts human suffering.”

The Farewell Foundation has asked the BC Registrar of Companies to determine that s.241(b) is constitutionally invalid and to provide it with corporate status. If the Registrar refuses to grant corporate status to the Farewell Foundation, the decision will be subject to judicial review.

Please visit the Farewell Foundation website: www.farewellfoundation.ca for more information.

The Farewell Foundation is represented by Jason Gratl of Gratl & Company.
Media contacts: Russel Ogden: 604-521-1110 or info@farewellfoundation.ca
Jason Gratl: 604-317-1919

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At a packed Portland Film Festival on Saturday, I saw the best documentary film ever made on assisted suicide for the terminally ill. (It topped Sundance prizes 2011). Amidst the sorrows of dying and death there were courageous cameos and plenty of love, laughter and hugs. Artistic and tasteful, showing the huge progress right-to-die has made in America. “How to Die in Oregon” by Peter Richardson will show on HBO on May 27, and the Sundance TV channel later.

Physician-assisted suicide for the dying is now lawful in the states of Oregon, Washington and Montana. Only residents may choose to use it. Further attempts to pass similar laws are planned for many New England states.

Within the documentary there is background on the Hemlock Society, which started it all in 1980.

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Germany’s medical community has liberalized its code on helping sick patients die, giving more freedom to individual doctors. The change reflects a growing acceptance of assisted suicide among German doctors.

The German Medical Association has presented new guidelines for physician-assisted suicide, allowing greater leeway for doctors to rely on their own conscience when deciding whether to help ill patients die.

The new text, presented on Thursday, reads: “The doctor’s assistance with suicide is not a medical duty.” Previous guidelines stated that assisted suicide was in strict violation of medical ethics.

Rather than justifying or endorsing assisted suicide, the association said it was simply allowing doctors to decide for themselves whether helping a patient die is justifiable.

Full report at www.dw-world.de

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For the umpteenth time, lawmakers in America have dithered, or used their religious beliefs, to let the public down. This Montana case is a classic — the Supreme Court there approved the right to physician-assisted suicide but now the legislature won’t set up any rules or guidelines for how doctors and patients can use it. Thus they are opening up their law to the possibility of abuse.

This Associated Press story gives the facts:

Montana lawmakers tabled a bill Thursday that would have established rules for physician-assisted suicide — setting up a situation where Montana could remain in limbo under a 2009 court ruling that doesn’t specifically prevent doctors from getting criminally charged in such cases.

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that nothing in state law prevents a doctor from prescribing lethal drugs to mentally competent, terminally ill patients. But the court didn’t determine if the state constitution guarantees the right to physician-assisted suicide.

Doctors fear they still could be prosecuted in such cases, although Continue Reading »

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