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Police Use Totalitarian Tactics to Shut Down Non-Profit
— press release
May 15, 2009

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Three more senior citizen volunteers from Final Exit Network, Inc., an organization of right-to-die activists, have been indicted in a widening effort by a small handful of local authorities to shut down the nationwide not-for-profit corporation’s advocacy program.

“These indictments are nothing but a publicity stunt by an activist right-to-life prosecutor with little respect for the law,” said Final Exit Network president Jerry Dincin, of Highland Park, Illinois.

“The defense costs will temporarily divert all of Final Exit Network’s resources, but we will emerge stronger than ever after we prove that these bogus charges cannot be prosecuted successfully in front of a jury of our peers.”

Two FEN “exit guides” who provide information and emotional support for persons who wish to terminate intolerable suffering, were indicted on a charge of “manslaughter” in Phoenix for counseling for providing information and emotional support to Jana Van Voorhis before she died in the Phoenix area in 2007.

The two FEN exit guides, Wye Hale-Rowe and Frank Langsner, were indicted
this week by a Maricopa County grand jury on charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit manslaughter. FEN regional coordinator Roberta Massey and the FEN’s medical director, Dr. Lawrence Egbert of Baltimore, were charged with being a part of the “conspiracy” in connection with Van Voorhis’s suicide.

All the defendants were served with papers this week requiring them to surrender in Phoenix on May 26.

Dr. Egbert, as FEN’s medical director, reviews the medical records of all FEN members who seek counseling and emotional support from FEN before they choose to end their suffering. Dr. Egbert screens the records to ascertain if the individuals are appropriate candidates for support under FEN’s carefully crafted guidelines. In this capacity, Dr. Egbert was also arrested and charged in February as one of the “Georgia Four,” all whom were FEN volunteers charged in suburban Atlanta, Georgia with assisting in a suicide.

The Phoenix indictment and the Atlanta charges are all part of an attack on FEN being coordinated by these law enforcement agencies. Agents of these agencies are actively soliciting law enforcement agencies all across the country to generate similar charges in the cases of other suicides supported by FEN.
Almost unanimously, the other law enforcement agencies are quite open in saying they did not take seriously the idea that FEN’s mostly elderly volunteers were involved in any criminal activity. The activities sponsored by FEN involve the exercise of core First Amendment-protected free speech rights, not any legally prohibited assistance in a suicide.

In the Van Voorhis case, which is typical of FEN cases, the two volunteers responded to the request of a member who had asked for their help to end her life. They did so by instructing her on the methods she could use. They were present when she took her own life but did not actively participate. The investigation was triggered when a relative of the member complained to the Phoenix police after she found that the deceased had changed her will in favor of another person.

“They are using every trick in the book to shut us down without even a trial, including intimidating our members, seizing our board members’ computers and files and all of our bank accounts,” Dincin said. “The Georgia authorities have yet to even indict the four arrested. To further intimidate our members the police have even charged them under the Georgia ‘RICO,’ or racketeering, statutes, whose legitimate purpose is to fight mob and drug crime,” Dincin said.

“The Georgia police, who we believe have a very weak case, in addition
to working with the Phoenix police, have been now going to the police
departments in other states to harass members who had merely accessed the Network’s Web site. We believe the current indictments in Phoenix are the result of the Georgia police working with the Phoenix police when neither one has a valid cause to believe any crime occurred,” Dincin said.

“Those who remember McCarthy era tactics will recognize the same ruthless disregard for the law by ideologically driven people in authority. Now as then, out of control authorities are making unsubstantiated claims, causing Final Exit Network members to be unfairly charged. They are then driven to insolvency to defend themselves,” Dincin continued.
“They think they can intimidate us and starve us into submission but they will not succeed. We are fighting for the rights of every mentally competent person to be in charge of their own life at its end, free from the dictates of the state, the clergy or anyone but themselves. This is the 21st Century Final Civil Right.”

Those who would like to support the Network can do so by going to its
website, www.finalexitnetwork.org, or by sending a check to Dalton Baker, Treasurer, at Box 553, Kingston, NJ 08528, or by calling 866-230-2471.

Contact: Bob Levine — rjl@gurus.org – 609-924-6328

Final Exit Network is a five-year-old nonprofit whose stated purpose is
“Until laws protect the right of every adult to a peaceful, dignified
death, Final Exit Network will be there to support those who need relief from their suffering today.”

Final Exit Network

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