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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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Last week’s Sundance Film Festival winner for the best documentary video was ‘How to Die in Oregon’ in which I have a tiny cameo role explaining the history of how the physician-assisted suicide law came about. Overall, I’m told, it is a very moving film; not seen it yet.

The film will be showing at the Portland Film Festival February 19 through the 21 and at later dates on the HBO and Sundance tv channels.

Portland festival tickets at https://nwfc.spotlightboxoffice.com/purchase/step4?ticketID=2118

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“How to Die in Oregon,” an intimate and poignant film about the impact of Oregon’s 1994 Death With Dignity Act, won the Grand Jury Prize in the U. S. Documentary Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, one of the most prestigious awards that can be won by a non-fiction film anywhere in the world.

Director Peter D. Richardson stood atop a field of 16 competing documentaries that were selected from a field of 841 submissions.

“How to Die,” which will have its local debut at the Portland International Film Festival in February and appear on the HBO cable network later in the year, is an account of the process by which several Oregon residents, particularly Cody Curtis, a 54-year-old Portland woman with recurring liver cancer, chose to end their lives with the administration of a physician-prescribed dose of barbiturates.

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By Derek Humphry

By far the worst and most wrenching dilemma in the field of a person’s right to choose to die involves victims of Alzheimer’s Disease. Once the disease has got hold, are they ever able to make a decision about ending their life? Suicide is not a crime, but assistance in the act is. Now there is a tragic example of this….

Connecticut law makes it illegal for a person to assist in another’s suicide, and Bruce Brodigan, a 46-year-old teacher from Somerville, Mass., has been charged with helping his father. Police said Bruce Brodigan told them he directed his father to write his own suicide note and prepared some bread and butter for his father to eat before he took his own life — steps recommended in the book “Final Exit.”

Police said the amitriptyline found in George Brodigan’s body was an antidepressant medication prescribed to his son. In addition, George Brodigan had a blood alcohol level of 0.13, well over legal definitions of impairment. The cause of death was listed as an overdose of amitriptyline and alcohol, police said, and the manner of death was listed as undetermined.

Bruce Brodigan was charged with second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony; tampering with or fabricating evidence, a class D felony; providing a false statement; and interfering with an officer. The latter two charges are Continue Reading »

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Pioneering Hemlock Society member dies

Shirley Carroll O’Connor, who was the first person to join the Hemlock Society when it was formed on 12 August 1980, died on 16 December 2010.

Shirley was 93. She lived in the Laguna Hills area of California.

Up to the end she was still a volunteer worker for Compassion and Choices, with which Hemlock merged in 2003.

“When I started Hemlock, one of the big criticisms by our opponents was that a person only joined in order to die. In rebuttal, I could cite Shirley as living proof that this was not so,” said Derek Humphry. “Her loyalty to the right-to-die movement spanned 30 years.”

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The Mailonline in London reported 15 Dec 10:

No charges in 20 assisted-suicide cases as public prosecution is accused of re-writing law

By Steve Doughty

The Director of Public Prosecutions [in England] has declined to bring charges against at least 20 people suspected of helping others to commit suicide, it was revealed yesterday.

Keir Starmer QC said the cases were difficult and involved families where loved ones were accused of assisting in suicide.

The disclosure provoked fury from anti-euthanasia groups. They accused Mr Starmer, who is in charge of all criminal prosecution decisions, of single-handedly rewriting the law on suicide.

Earlier this year the DPP published controversial guidelines on when prosecutions for assisted suicide are likely to be brought.

The new rules suggest that prosecutors no longer regard it as a crime to help someone to die out of compassion. Under the 1961 Suicide Act, assisting Continue Reading »

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