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By Derek Humphry

If there is anybody in the right-to-die movement who made a radical difference it was Dr. Peter Goodwin, who brought his life to an end on 11 March 2012 in the presence of his family, using the law he helped to pass. Aged 83, he suffered from an incurable brain illness.

Up until the time when he joined Hemlock and then in l992 chaired the Oregon Right to Die Committee, the American movement campaigned for both voluntary euthanasia (direct injection) and physician-assisted suicide (oral ingestion). Hemlock’s model law, which had been narrowly voted down in California and Washington states, specified both forms of hastened death.

But Peter argued that the law was more likely to pass if it sanctioned only physician-assisted suicide. He persuaded his colleagues that enough doctors were willing to help terminally ill people die but that injecting lethal doses was abhorrent to them. It smacked too much of killing. He argued successfully that a single-purpose law, with the doctor playing a more remote role – prescribing the lethal overdose but not being present — would succeed in Oregon. The final responsibility lay with the patient.

Peter’s next contribution was to attend the annual meeting of the Oregon Medical Society and persuade its members to not oppose the
law when it came up for a vote by citizens’ ballot initiative, now named the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. He failed to get the Medical Society to support the law but at least they agreed to not oppose it.

Voters approved the law in l994 and again in l997. The Oregon- type law has since been passed in Washington state and introduced in England and many other places since. Residents of Oregon who were close to death, and met the law’s requirements, and used it, now number 596 since it became operational in l998.

Medical training

Peter Goodwin was born in London, England, on December 11, 1928, and grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. He Continue Reading »

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A valuable web site from the Death With Dignity National Center
outlines the current stages of various ‘right-to-die’ or opposing bills now in front of American legislatures.
Worth visiting at


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“How to die in Oregon” a video by Peter Richardson

The DVD of this prize-winning documentary is now available to order OUTSIDE the US and Canada. Here’s the link to order:

To order WITHIN the USA and Canada, go to
the DVD distributor’s webpage:


NOTE: This is not an ERGO project, though we heartily endorse it because of its high quality. I am very briefly in the video giving the history of the progressive side of the movement for the right to die…Derek Humphry

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Press release

ATLANTA, Georgia, Feb. 6, 2012 — The Supreme Court of Georgia today struck down the state’s assisted-suicide law, abruptly terminating the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s prosecution of four Final Exit Network right-to-die activists.

The state high court agreed with the 3,000-member, national not-for-profit organization’s argument that the Georgia law violated the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the corresponding provision of the Georgia Constitution.

“We are overjoyed for our friends and colleagues who were so unjustly treated like criminals for three years,” said FEN’s president, Wendell Stephenson, a college ethics professor, of Fresno, California. “These are good and compassionate people who did not break any laws.”
FEN’s former president, Ted Goodwin, who turns 66 next week, of suburban Atlanta and Punta Gorda, Florida; its former medical director, Lawrence D. Egbert, 84, of Baltimore; a case coordinator, Nicholas A. Sheridan, 62, of Baltimore; and an “exit guide,” Claire H. Blehr, 79, of suburban Atlanta, had each been free on $60,000 bail since their arrest on February 25, 2009. The case never came to trial.

FEN and its volunteers argued that the Georgia law prohibited Continue Reading »

After researching the development and use of the helium self-deliverance method for five years as NuTech’s unofficial historian, I can assure readers of this blog of two things with certainty:
1. The “party balloon kit” helium tanks contain 100.00% helium, with no other gases.
2. Misstatements to the contrary have no basis whatsoever in fact, and no “adulterated” tank has ever been found or tested anywhere in the world, to the best of my research knowledge.

If the manufacturer (chiefly Worthington Industries, who sells the product worldwide) wanted to add any amount of other gas (such as oxygen or nitrogen) to the contents of the helium tank, it would have to be clearly marked on the packaging, for to adulterate the gas in any way without obvious labeling would be a violation of U.S. and foreign law.

No state or nation has ever been proven to have done so. None.

Let’s put this issue to rest. The “party balloon” helium kits contain 100% helium, period. For a complete description of the origin, development, and use of the “helium system” of self-deliverance, please see Chapter 6, “Robbing Death of Its Sting,” from my forthcoming book, “In Search of Gentle Death: The Fight for your Right to Die With Dignity,” which will be available for sale in late April 2012. The release date of the book will be announced here. — Richard N. Cote’ / dickcote@earthlink.net

(NuTech is short for New Technology in Self-Deliverance from a terminal illness. This nonprofit group developed the helium hood method.)

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Re: United States v. Sharlotte Hydorn
Victims Rights and Restitution Act

If you are one of those persons who recently received a ‘victim letter’ from the US Department of Justice in connection with Ms Sharlotte Hydorn, of California, who used to supply helium hood kits upon request, I suggest that you respond to it this way:

Say quite firmly (if that is your view) that you are not a “victim,” and you feel Sharlotte was providing a great public service. You should explain why you ordered an exit hood.

If your check was not cashed, you should make a point of saying that. You should urge that Sharlotte be given no fine and no sentence.

Sharlotte has agreed to plead guilty on March 15 to one charge of failing to submit a tax return. Her operation, GLADD, started in 2007, was closed down in May by an FBI raid.

If you live in the San Diego area, you might wish to attend the court hearing MARCH 15 at 1:30 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal.

This is our chance to show support for a gallant lady whose only fault (in my view) was to forget her tax liabilities in the crush to supply single-handedly the helium hood kits.
— Derek Humphry, Oregon

PS You can order the pamphlet “How to Make Your Own Helium Hood Kit’ at the ERGO Bookstore www.finalexit.org/ergo-store

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At least two-thirds of Canadians support assisted suicide, according to a Forum Research poll for the National Post.

The poll found 67 per cent of Canadians favor legalizing doctor-assisted suicide of terminally ill patients. In Ontario only 60 per cent of residents agreed.

The poll shows support is highest among men and respondents under the age of 65.

The survey comes as the B.C. Supreme Court considers the case of a woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease, who is fighting for the right to end her life with a doctor’s help.

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End-of-year appeal by ERGO
I know everybody is currently asking you for money, and these are difficult times, but if you care about the right to choose to die please think of ERGO (Euthanasia Research & Guidance Org) in your gift-giving this month.
We are a tiny organization but still have weighty outgoings concerning technical support, computer and tax fees, telephone and postage expenses, utilities and so on.

Small though it is, ERGO reaches out to the world through its literature, two web sites, blog and the news list. We do media briefings and supply students with background information for their projects.

If you saw the prize-winning video documentary on HBO, “How To Die In Oregon” you will have noticed ERGO’s cameo appearance giving the historical background to the American modern right-to-die movement. News and context are what ERGO supplies.

ERGO, founded in l993, is a nonprofit, tax exempt, tax deductible organization. To make a gift, send check to ERGO, 24829 Norris Lane, Junction City, Oregon 97448.

Easier perhaps to make your contribution over the internet by going to www.finalexit.org/ergo-store and clicking in the bottom icon “Contribute to ERGO”

Thank you. Enjoy your holidays. — Derek Humphry, president
ergo@finalexit.org 8 December 2011

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A 91-year-old Californian woman has pleaded guilty to failing to file federal tax returns for her company that made and sold helium hood kits. They were intended for the terminally ill to bring their lives to a speedy end if they wished.

Sharlotte Hydorn admitted paying no tax on $66,717 (£42,775) of income in 2010. In a plea deal, she agreed to pay $26,000 in outstanding tax.

Federal agents found the kits when they raided the retired teacher’s home in El Cajon, near San Diego, in May. She used the name of GLADD.

Footnote: There is now nowhere else that these kits can be purchased. “How to make your own helium hood kit” instructions can be downloaded as a pdf for $5 from

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To view Derek Humphry’s opinion on Alzheimers Disease and the possibility of self-deliverance from it, visit this site on YouTube:


Four minutes long – “The Tragic Dilemma of Alzheimer’s”


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