May 29, 2024

Final Exit Network slated by supporters of assisted suicide

Even Jack Kevorkian

The arrests of the four members of the Final Exit Network have also created consternation amongst American supporters of assisted suicide and euthanasia. They include, surprisingly, Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who was jailed after helping about 130 people to die. Although as a condition of his parole he is not allowed to promote euthanasia, his lawyer said that Kevorkian thought that FEN’s methods were wrong because a doctor was not involved in the deaths and because the group had defied the law.

Supporters of legalised assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington are also disturbed about the lack of medical involvement. "It just feels like something that’s so totally different from what we do — working with legislators, physicians and pharmacists over the ethical way to do this," said Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Oregon-based Death With Dignity National Center. "I’m concerned there’s not a set of standards that are followed that protect people."

According to its website, FEN caters for people with "an incurable condition which causes intolerable suffering". Doctors vet applications for help, but need not be present during the suicide. The methods it uses, mainly inhaling helium, are based on the best-selling suicide manual, "Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide" by British author Derek Humphry. ~ AP, Mar 3; AJC, Feb 28