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Obituary: Earl Wettstein, outstanding campaigner
The right-to-die movement has lost one of its most dynamic characters with the death of Earl Wettstein, of Arizona, from a heart attack at the age of 81.
After watching his Aunt Gladys beg for help in her dying process but getting none, Earl volunteered his talents and lobbied legislatively for ten years for the movement. “If I were boss of the world, doctors would be allowed to give lethal injections to terminally ill people in great pain and suffering who requested it,” he said.
After serving in the Army from l953 for two years, he gained a bachelor’ s degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota. He went into advertising and marketing in Tucson, always finding time to do pro bono work for various nonprofit organizations.
After the experience with his auntie, Earl joined the Hemlock Society, soon heading up the Arizona branch, its oldest and largest chapter, also known as Arizonans for Death With Dignity. Dissatisfied with its size, he went around the state campaigning, starting nine sub-chapters. Whenever there was a prospect of legislative action, Earl spent hours at the statehouse lobbying for support.
With his genial personality, sincerity and communication skills, people would listen to Earl even if they didn’t always agree. He was brilliant at coaxing top class speakers to the Hemlock meetings.
His friend and colleague John Abraham said: “In addition to being a ‘doer’, Earl had great integrity, a good sense of humor and an unimpeachable character. His integrity to the cause was thorough and unflagging. He will be missed.”
Earl joined the national board of the Hemlock Society USA in 2001 but, unhappy with the way the organization was drifting, did not seek re-election in 2003. The next year he was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the Final Exit Network which sought to emulate Hemlock’s Caring Friends philosophy.
Elected the Network’s first president, he did so as long it was for a year only, and shouldered much of the slog of starting a new national organization. Then he retired to his studio to follow his love of painting and writing, punctured by the occasional outburst of enthusiastic support for his favorite cause. Few people give as much public service, or as effectively, as Earl Wettstein did. –— Derek Humphry

The Pioneer Press in Minnesota reported on 18 December 2012:
Right-to-die group argues free speech in Apple Valley assisted suicide case

A national right-to-die-group argued on Dec. 18 that its role in
the suicide of an Apple Valley woman, which included instructions on the
best way to die by asphyxiation, was protected as free speech.
Four members of Final Exit Network face charges of connected to the
death of Doreen Dunn, who died by suicide in May 2007 after struggling
with chronic, debilitating pain, though she was not terminally ill.
Dunn joined the group earlier that year, reportedly writing a letter
that explained her condition. Members pay a one-time fee of about $50
and also submit medical records.
Two of the group’s members later traveled to Minnesota as “exit guides”
and were in Dunn’s home when she died, according to authorities and
travel records.
About a dozen Final Exit Network supporters, some from out of state, came to the courtroom to watch the proceedings.
According to prosecutors, guides usually visit members before a suicide,
help them practice the method — typically asphyxiation by inhaling
helium from a plastic bag placed over the head — offer moral support
and comfort, and remove evidence of the suicide after the fact if asked
to do so.
Charges against four members including aiding suicide, which are
felonies, and interfering with a death scene, a gross misdemenaor.
Attorneys for the defendants told Dakota County District Court Judge
Karen Asphaug Tuesday that the group did nothing more than provide
readily available information and moral support to
Even that is a crime under Minnesota law, which bars advising,
encouraging or assisting someone in taking his or her own life. But the
defense team says the advising and encouraging portions should be thrown
out as unconstitutional because they infringe on free speech without
sufficient justification.
Robert Rivas, a Florida attorney for Final Exit Network, said the information on suicide by helium inhalation is readily available from numerous sources,
include the 1991 book by Derek Humphry “Final Exit” from which the group takes its name.
“The speech that Final Exit Network is being prohibited from making in this case is speech that is being made every day Continue Reading »

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Message from Derek Humphry at ERGO
This time of year I ask if you can make a contribution to ERGO (Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization). Gifts are tax-deductible because ERGO is nonprofit 501c3 with an IRS tax ID # of 93-111834. www.finalexit.org
Although we earn a modest amount of money daily from the sales of exclusively right-to-die books, ebooks, DVDs and literature (mainly ‘Final Exit’) it is not enough to run the organization, cautious as we are. Fees, printing, postage, utilities, travel and lodging are rising, as probably you have noticed.
ERGO has always been the backer and sponsor of the research workshops (NuTech*) looking for ways in which a terminally ill adult can bring life to a peaceful, nonviolent conclusion, and where drugs and doctors are not involved. NuTech developed the helium hood method of self-deliverance which has been used by hundreds of dying persons in the past ten years. ERGO continues to look for other methods, so will be assembling workshops over the next few years.
The FBI closed down Sharlotte Hydorn’s kit-making operation last year (GLADD). In response, ERGO immediately produced a pamphlet on how to make a kit. www.finalexit.org/ergo-store Thousands have been distributed.
ERGO has always pioneered lawful, medical-assisted suicide for the dying, but until that way is universal there is a need for personal, special sources for those facing their end now and interested in knowing how.
Daily ERGO talks to people via internet, mail and telephone helping them with a range of inquiries. News reporters are briefed and student inquiries fulfilled. Two web sites, a virtual bookstore, a blog and a news list are maintained. You may have seen ERGO’s contribution to the recent FRONTLINE TV documentary? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/suicide-plan/
ERGO has no staff, pays no rent. It’s all voluntary. (Some skilled tasks are outsourced and remunerated.)
If you feel you can help financially support ERGO in its work of communicating the essence of choice in dying well, it can be done via the internet by going to the very last icon on this web site: http://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store/
Or pop a check in the mail to
24829 Norris Lane
Junction City OR 97448

Thank you. And Seasons Greetings! Derek Humphry, President ergo@finalexit.org 12/12/12
*Re NuTech

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The Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison is to star in new BBC Three sitcom ” Way to Go.”

The six-part series is described as a “black comedy” about three men who set up an assisted-suicide business. It will air next year.

Harrison will play Scott, who devises the desperate scheme when his terminally ill neighbor asks for his help to die and his brother Joey (Ben Heathcote) is in desperate need of cash to pay off his gambling debts.

I suppose one can at long last consider that this controversial and delicate subject of assisted suicide has ‘arrived’ now that there is a sit-com
comedy about it?……..Derek Humphry, author of ‘Final Exit’

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ISO Polling came up with interesting results on choices in dying
throughout Europe www.isopublic.ch

This is an extensive poll, too big to put on this blog, but well
presented and worth reading (in many languages). The Swiss Medical Lawyers Association has published recently the results of an opinion poll in European countries.

Please consult the following link for the version in English — and four
other languages. You may need to copy and paste these two lines into
your browser:


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If you missed last night’s FRONTLINE tv program ‘The Suicide Plan’ you can see it at this web site:


It is well worth watching……..Derek 14 Nov 2012

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The Suicide Plan
Coming November 13, 2012

FRONTLINE on PBS TV explores the underground world of assisted suicide

In this groundbreaking 90-minute film, FRONTLINE explores the underground world of assisted suicide and takes viewers inside one of the most polarizing social issues of our time – told not only by the people choosing to die, but also by their “assisters,” individuals and right-to-die organizations that put themselves in legal jeopardy by helping others to die.

Check your local listings on PBS for Tuesday evening.

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‘FRONTLINE’ on assisted suicide

A TV film called The Suicide Plan, airs Tuesday, November 13, 2012, from 9:30-11 p.m. ET, on FRONTLINE/PBS.

But be sure to check your local PBS listings.

Of course I have not seen this video, but I understand it is mostly about the work of the FINAL EXIT NETWORK in the USA. FRONTLINE is also shown worldwide in due course.

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In Search of Gentle Death: The Fight for Your Right to Die With Dignity, by Richard N. Cote (Corinthian Books, 2012) Hardcover and ebook.

Reviewed by Zoe FitzGerald Carter

Faced with my mother’s decision to end her life after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for many years, I spent the last year of her life wrestling with how to respond. Because her doctors were unwilling to help her – and because assisted suicide is illegal in my hometown (Washington D.C.) — my mother decided to stop eating and drinking, believing it would pose less of a legal risk to my sisters and me. Despite the near total cessation of food and liquid, she lived for close to two weeks and would have lived longer if she hadn’t taken an overdose of morphine several nights before she died in order to speed things along.
Although I did not initially embraced her decision to end her life, I was angry and distressed at how hard it was for her to accomplish her “good death” and, in the years since, I have become deeply convinced that choosing when and how you die is a basic civil right. In his cogent, detailed chronicle of the modern right-to-die movement, In Search of Gentle Death: The Fight for Your Right to Die With Dignity, social historian and author, Richard N. Cote, makes this argument in eloquent, quietly reasoned prose.
In a passage that I found deeply resonant, he writes: “Only the suffering person is capable of determining Continue Reading »

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There are reports in the financial pages that there is currently a worldwide shortage of the inert gas helium and the price is going up. Helium is extensively used in science, industry and medicine. A few people use helium, together with a hood kit, to bring their terminal illness to a peaceful, painless end (or plan to do so later on)
ERGO and the Final Exit Network are getting reports that helium is not easily available (in party balloon kits) from stores in North America. This may be partly due to August not being a big party time, and stores have let stocks diminish until nearer Christmastime.
Persons with helium hood kits are advised to get in a stock of two helium tanks now, and store them away securely. Tanks are probably secure for 2-3 years.
If you have recent experience of purchasing — or not being able to purchase — helium, please let ERGO know on this blog, or email ergo@finalexit.org
The amount of helium used in choice in dying is infinitesimal compared to the amount used in industry and science, so it is not likely to go away.
BTW, nitrogen is an inert gas and equally effective in self-deliverance.

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