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Did you happen to see Friday night’s program “Father Brown” on PBS TV ?   Show name: ‘The Angel of Mercy.’

It featured two deaths which at first seemed normal to the police but which the great ministerial R.C. ‘detective’ suspected to be murder.

He eventually found that both persons, who had advanced cancer, had been gassed. A person who believed in euthanasia had provided them each with a gas mask and a bottle of gas (did not say which gas) and they chose to self-deliver.

The story was set between l945-50 UK because there was talk of food rationing.
The Euthanasia Society in London was formed in l935 and a bill on assisted suicide  failed in Parliament in 1936, as it still does. But the subject was then very little known.

I suspect the script writer used today’s open knowledge of inert gas self-deliverance to reach back 60 years for a story line. Father Brown naturally did not approve, but the program was not  on the whole judgemental.  Unusual.

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Talk about odd distribution of vaccines to combat the pandemic!

All my family in England (regardless of age) have received both their shots.

My family in France — no signs of shots coming at all.

I have received one shot (Moderna) this week on account of being over 80 in Oregon, USA.

The book ‘Final Exit’ reached 30 years old on 2 February 2021. In updated versions it still sells modestly around the world every day.

In 1991 it reached the New York Times book list as Number One, and remained listed for 18 weeks.

It became infamous as ‘the suicide guide’ but author Derek Humphry pointed to its content as clearly being for the terminally and hopelessly ill, not the depressed.

It was translated into 12 major languages and is available in most major libraries.

“When I wrote this book in 1990 on sabbatical from the Hemlock Society, I aimed it at members of that organization.” said Humphry. “My literary agent tried to get publishers interested but none would.   So I published it myself.  Then an article about the book in the Wall Street Journal launched sales of 100,000 a week.  I was amazed.”

Exactly how many copies of the book have sold is difficult to estimate because of translations, internet E-books, paperbacks,  audio versions, and it is a much-pirated book. Humphry estimates it is around two million.  Over 50 years he has published 13 books, the only other one a top seller was “Jean’s Way” (1978), the response to which inspired him to found the Hemlock Society USA (1980-2003).

“Final Exit” E-book and updated paperback are available at

https://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store

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There is a lengthy and accurate article about the right-to-die in Bloomberg Business news. The author describes his father’s well-laid plans to achieve a good end to his life.

Below is a tiny extract.  Suggest going to read the whole article  at:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-01-27/death-with-dignity-how-i-helped-my-dad-die

Extract:

I later learned of popular how-to books such as Final Exit, by the founder of the modern American right-to-die movement, Derek Humphry. It became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller after it was published in 1991 and has been translated into 13 languages and sold 2 million copies worldwide. (“The book’s popularity is a clarion call, signaling that existing social and clinical practices do not give Americans the sense of control they desire,” a New York state task force wrote in a report after the book’s publication.) In 2004,

Humphry co-founded a group called Final Exit Network. According to its newsletter, its volunteers “go anywhere in the country to be with people, at no charge, who desperately seek a peaceful way to die,” even those “who are not necessarily terminal, including those suffering from early dementia.”

Plotting ways to off my dad felt absurd. The assisted-death movement aims to save people from that predicament. Ludwig Minelli, the lawyer who founded the Swiss assisted-death organization Dignitas in 1998, saw himself as a crusader for “the very last human right.” Jack Kevorkian, who helped about 130 people die and was convicted of murder for one of those deaths, believed people should be able to choose to end their lives even if physical death isn’t as imminent as some U.S. state laws now require.

end extract

The significance of obituaries

I’m a daily scanner of the obituaries in the four newspapers that I read  in USA and UK (all now online, unfortunately.)  Why this obsession?

True, at 90 I’m on the cusp of life and death myself, yet the instinct to study the lives of others recently deceased goes longer and deeper than that.

After perusing the lists of the recently dear departed, I only read the obits. of people who interest me: How did they achieve what they did?  How long did take them? What was their particular significance?  Particularly fascinating to me are the stories of WW2 veterans who were in dangerous combat situations, through skill and luck survived, then went on to live to be 90 or even 100.

Bear in mind that early in life it was my job to write obituaries.  As a newspaper reporter from age 16  I was often sent to the homes of just bereaved families to  seek out the backgrounds.  I was never turned away, people seemed honored that their loved one deserved being in the local paper.

Later in life I’ve felt obliged to compose the obits. of colleagues in mutual campaigning movements, giving these articles a deeper description through familiarity.

There’s some strange feeling in the words of the unknown person  who opined:  “You are not really dead until everybody who knew you is dead, too.”

—Derek Humphry  01/12/2021

Campaigner Bruce Yelle dies

BRUCE YELLE, of Florence, Oregon, a great campaigner for the rights of terminally ill people, died on 24 December 2020. He was 67. He had pancreatic cancer.

In 2018 He founded End of Life Choices to fight for improvements to Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act 1988. Bruce had deliberately moved home from California to Oregon in 2013 to take advantage of the medical assisted dying law as he had Parkinson’s Disease. Then he discovered that the state law could not help him. He determined to fight to improve it.

“Human rights, you know right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “We believe it is a human right to make human choices right up to the end of our lives.”

At the end, although Bruce had qualified for doctor assistance, and the prescription was in his fridge, his Home Hospice care kept him free of pain, thus he did not need it.

Lobbying legislators and physicians, Bruce worked constantly to try to improve Oregon’s old fashioned law. His persistence paid off with small changes. I enjoyed working with him on his board in the fight for those changes.. A good man, whom we shall all miss. R I P
–Derek Humphry

ERGO’s mission is that making solid progress — via acceptability and legality — is best achieved by the international exchange of pertinent literature, news and views. Our aim is to give choices in dying to the terminally and degenerative ill adult; people with issues contact ERGO daily.

Since 1995, we have funded the organization through the sales of books on self-deliverance and medical aid in dying (MAiD). But books have a limited shelf-life.

We recently issued an updated eBook edition of the famous how-to book “FINAL EXIT”, titled “FINAL EXIT 2020” and available at https://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store
ERGO has no staff, no offices, but running expenses such as internet fees, tech. support, utilities, office supplies, printing and postage and so on, mount up. Your help with a holiday donation would be appreciated

ERGO has been tax-exempt and tax deductible since 1993. The IRS ID # is 93-1118314.

To easily donate to ERGO visit:
https://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store/contribute-to-ergo-c-68/

Or mail to ERGO, 24829 Norris Ln, Junction City, OR 97448 USA

If you can help our mutual cause, many thanks. Happy Holidays!

Derek Humphry, president
Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO) USA

At last there is some movement towards better choices in dying in a European country which is always slow to reform.

Austria’s Constitutional Court has issued two important decisions. It held
it unconstitutional to prohibit assisting suicide. According to the
Court’s press release:

At the request of several people affected, including two seriously ill
people, the Constitutional Court (VfGH) repealed the provision that
makes assisting suicide a criminal offense.

The phrase “or help him” in Section 78 of the Criminal Code is
unconstitutional. It violates the right to self-determination, because
this fact forbids any kind of assistance under any circumstances.

Read more here:
https://www.vfgh.gv.at/medien/VfGH__Es_ist_verfassungswidrig__jede_Art_der_Hilfe_zu.de.php

This article by Faye Girsh, of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, is well worth reading, and perhaps filing, but it is too long to publish on this blog:

Ten Ways to Help Ensure a Peaceful Death

Only 10% of us will die in our sleep. For the rest, here is a list that can help facilitate a peaceful and painless end to life:

https://www.thegooddeathsocietyblog.net/2020/11/29/10-ways-to-help-ensure-a-peaceful-death/

Betty Rollin’s husband wanted physician-assisted dying but being in New York he could not have it.

The New York Tines obituary on him said, in part:

Harold Edwards, known by his large circle of friends as Ed, died of colon cancer on November 10 at 84 at his home in New York City. He was a mathematician working in number theory, algebra, and the history and philosophy of mathematics.

Dr. Edwards was brilliant, charming, a prince among men, and a devoted husband to the love of his life, Betty Rollin, a former NBC news correspondent and author.

In ‘Last Wish‘, Betty wrote about her mother’s terminal cancer and their involvement in her suicide.

Betty and Ed went on to became active in the movement to legalize physician-assisted dying.

As of now, there is no law in New York which would have allowed Dr. Edwards to die with assistance as he wanted to do.

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