May 24, 2024

Final Exit Network members arrested

4 charged after death in Georgia
Thomas E. Goodwin, president of FENFour leading members of the Final Exit Network (FEN), an assisted suicide
organisation, have been arrested in the US state of Georgia over the death of a
58-year-old man. John Celmer, who was recovering from jaw surgery for throat and
neck cancer, died in June. He was not terminally ill.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) infiltrated FEN and carried out a
nation-wide investigation involving as many as 200 deaths. "The law is very
clear and they clearly violated it," said GBI spokesman John Bankhead. The four
arrested include FEN’s president, Thomas E. Goodwin, and its medical director,
Dr Lawrence D. Egbert. They could get up to five years in jail for assisted
suicide; they have also been charged with evidence-tampering and racketeering.

Members of FEN are advised to buy two tanks of helium (which is undetectable
in an autopsy) and a plastic hood. If someone asks for help in killing himself,
two members help him breathe in the helium and hold his hand as he slowly
suffocates. The operation is carried out in great secrecy to avoid police

"We’ve always realised there are prosecutors who would like to come after
us," FEN’s vice-president told AP. "There are plenty of religious prosecutors,
people who think this idea is a bad idea. So we don’t drive up and plant a flag
on the law saying we’re hastening a death." It appears that those who helped Mr
Celmer to die used latex gloves to avoid fingerprints and destroyed other

The right to die movement in the US sees the arrests as a test case for
assisted suicide. Barbara Coombs Lee, president of the national advocacy group
Compassion and Choices, said prosecuting assisted suicide would drive it
underground. "It’s not the way to make it safe. The plastic bag is sort of the
end-of-life equivalent of the coat hanger," she said. ~ AP,
Mar 5