Monday, February 28, 2005

Derek Humphry & His New Book

"The Good Euthanasia Guide 2005" Published by ERGO/Norris Lane Press. $14 US. Available from

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Quality of Life

It would be interesting if the argument was taken up in America -- as it has in the Netherlands -- of the merits, the rightness or wrongness, of ending one's life deliberately because of age, frailty, medical problems, and tired of struggling with them. Tired of life.

This approach seems to have been taken by the US writer Hunter S Thompson who shot himself at his kitchen table this week. He was 67. He had, say his friends, medical problems and didn't relish the prospect of going on. Certainly one can say that a man like him -- the 'gonzo journalist' -- had a full life!

As is well-known, it is not a crime to commit (or 'perform' as some prefer to say) suicide. But when is it 'rational suicide' or 'self-deliverance' from a hopeless life situation? When you've had enough pain and distress, is it your own choice to leave? I think it is. Should the views of others prevail in your action? Well, that's a matter of individual circumstances and decision.

In 1978, a New York woman, Doris Portwood, wrote a ground-breaking book (Dutton, NY, out of print) called "Commonsense Suicide: The Final Right". In it, she was probably the first to set out the case for what she called 'balance-sheet suicide.' She suggested drawing up a list of one's reasons to live, and one's reasons to die. Doris took her own life many years later, in the l990s, when suffering from advanced Parkinson's Disease. She had seen her mother and sister die of this punishing disease, and refused to go the same way.

-- Derek Humphry,
president, Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization, Oregon, USA

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Will They Let Terri Schiavo Go?

The death of anyone is sad -- diminishing, as the poet Donne said -- but surely it is time to be merciful to Terri Schiavo who has been in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for 14 years. It is my hope that her feeding tubes can be disconnected as her husband wishes and she can die a dignified death in the next few days.

Or will somebody think up yet another court case? As her lawyer in Florida has said, the many court cases have made a mockery of the legal system. How many cases do you have to win to win?

Late note: It is postponed again -- until Friday!

--Derek Humphry

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Nine Justices Will Decide About Dying

Today (2/22/05) the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the case from the Federal Government claiming that the 1994 Oregon Death With Dignity Act -- which permits physician-assiseed suicide by the oral drinking of prescribed barbiturates -- breaks Federal laws on the use of dangerous drugs.

The State of Oregon replies that such actions, and uses, are within medical practice, which are governed by the states.

The Bush administration argues -- of course -- that assisted suicide, even for dying people, is not a 'medical practice' and therefore the drugs are being used illegally.

We won't get the Supreme Court's ruling until the end of this year.

--Derek Humphry

Monday, February 14, 2005

Jack Kevorkian Address

Assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian was back in his cell at Michigan's Thumb Correctional facility Monday after undergoing double hernia surgery.

Kevorkian, nicknamed "Dr. Death" for assisting in the suicides of more than 100 terminally ill patients, had bilateral hernia surgery Friday and had been expected to recuperate at Foote Hospital in Jackson, Mich. He was transferred to the hospital under 24-hour guard last Thursday.

Kevorkian, 76, who is in poor health reportedly with hepatitis C and circulatory problems, Sunday was returned to his prison cell at the Thumb Correctional Center where he is serving a 10-to-25-year sentence, the Detroit Free Press said.

Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in the videotaped poisoning of a man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease in 1998.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian # 284797
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Dr

-- Derek Humphry

Addendum to book 'Final Exit'

A new, illustrated Addendum to the 3rd edition of the book "Final Exit". Only available as an eBook/PDF download ($5 US) through the ERGO-Store.

New purchases of Final Exit, 3rd edition paperback from the ERGO-Store includes the Addendum at no extra charge. Addendum is not available in bookstores.

--Derek Humphry

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

OPINION: Now that I've seen the movie 'Million Dollar Baby', it is a superbly written, executed, and acted. Essentially, there are two stories -- the first of a woman's ambition to make something of herself; second, her accident and her determination to do something about her condition. Surely the right to die in a manner and at a time one's own choosing is the ultimate civil liberty.

Derek Humphry