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Final Exit (Third Edition): The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying

The practicalities of self-deliverance and assisted suicide for the dying

Derek Humphry

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As the legal controversy continues--this newly revised and updated third edition of the landmark bestseller contains new, critically important information for patients, loved ones, and medical personnel.

The original publication of Final Exit stunned the nation by offering people with terminal illness a choice on how--and when--to end their suffering. It helped thousands by giving clear instructions to doctors, nurses, and families on how to handle a patient's request for euthanasia.

In the wake of court cases and legislative mandates, this revised and updated third edition goes far beyond the original to provide new information about the legality of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and a thoughtful examination of the personal issues involved. It has become the essential source to help loved ones and supportive doctors remain within existing laws and keep a person's dying intimate, private, and dignified.

With deep compassion and sensitivity, it spells out why a living will may not be sufficient to have a person's wishes carried out--and what document is a better alternative. It updates where to get proper drugs and exactly how to carry out the quickest, most peaceful way to make a final exit. Finally, it gently talks to a person considering self-deliverance about alternatives, planning, and the means to make every death a "good death" at our time of greatest need.

"Until there is a law which would allow physicians to help people who want a Final Exit , here is Derek Humphry's book, fittingly named, to guide them."
--Betty Rollin, author of First, You Cry and Last Wish

"An honest, clear, compelling book."
--Dr. Frederick R. Abrams, physician and ethicist

Derek Humphry, president of the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO!) and founder and executive director (1980–1992) of the National Hemlock Society, was a newspaper reporter for 35 years, working for many British journals. During his 14 years with the London
Sunday Times, he began to write books on racial problems, law enforcement, and civil liberties. In 1978 he moved to the United States to work for the
Los Angeles Times. The international acceptance of the story of his first wife’s death,
Jean’s Way, now considered a classic account of rational assisted suicide, launched his campaign for the right to lawful physician aid in dying. In 1980 in Los Angeles he and friends formed the Hemlock Society, the first such group in North America. From 1988 to 1990, Derek Humphry was president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. He lives near Eugene, Oregon.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 256
Erscheinungsdatum 01.11.2002
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-385-33653-6
Verlag Dell
Maße (L/B/H) 20,5/13,2/1,9 cm
Gewicht 195 g
Auflage 3. Auflage von 2000
Verkaufsrang 19493


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  • The Most Difficult Decision

    This is the scenario: You are terminally ill, all medical treatments acceptable to you have been exhausted, and the suffering in its different forms is unbearable. Because the illness is serious, you recognize that your life is drawing to a close. Euthanasia comes to mind as a way of release.

    The dilemma is awesome. But it has to be faced. Should you battle on, take the pain, endure the indignity, and await the inevitable end, which may be days, weeks, or months away? Or should you take control of the situation and resort to some form of euthanasia, which in its modern-language definition has come to mean "help with a good death"?

    Today the euthanasia option--or the right to choose to die--comes in four ways:

    Passive euthanasia. Popularly known as "pulling the plug," it is the disconnection of medical life-support equipment without which you cannot live. It could be a respirator to aid breathing, a feeding tube to provide liquids and nutrition, or even the sophisticated use of certain drugs to stave off death. There is not likely to be much ethical or legal trouble here provided that you have signed a Living Will and also a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care--they are also known as Advance Declarations--that express your wishes. (More on these later.)

    Self-deliverance. Taking your own life to escape the suffering. This method does not involve any other person directly, although a loved one or friend should ideally be present. It is legal in all respects, and widely accepted ethically.

    Assisted suicide. You get lethal drugs from somebody else, usually a physician, and swallow them to cause your death. It is legal for you to do so, but at present it is a felony for the person who supplied the drugs or took any action physically to help you. Despite the present criminality of assistance, this procedure is gaining increasing ethical acceptance. In 1996 two U.S. appeals courts ruled in favor of physician-assisted suicide, making it likely that this is the modified form of assisted death which will be adopted. But the U.S. Supreme Court quickly squashed that and the appeals court were overruled.

    Active euthanasia. Death brought about by a physician's injection of lethal drugs. This procedure is illegal and, despite the necessity for it in certain cases, has limited ethical acceptance in the medical profession. It is already available in the Netherlands but is probably more distant in America.

    Often, persons who have not properly thought these situations through claim they are not worried about a bad death because they have a Living Will and the plug can be pulled at their behest. Probably so, but roughly half the people who die in Western society are not connected to life-support equipment in their final days, so relief by that way is not an option.

    Before we go any farther, let me say this: If you consider the God whom you worship to be the absolute master of your fate, then read no more. Seek the best pain management available and arrange for hospice care.

    If you want personal control and choice over your final exit, it will require forethought, planning, documentation, good friends, and decisive, courageous action by you. This book will help in many ways, but in the last analysis, whether you bring your life to a quick end, and how you achieve this, is entirely your responsibility, ethically and legally.

    The task of finding the right drugs, getting someone to help or at least be with you, and carrying out your exit in a place and in a manner that is not upsetting to other people is yours. Suicide, even the most rational and justified version, the sort we are talking about in this book, is not something other people are anxious to be involved in. It is best to seek the help of family or the closest of friends.

    If you have not already done so, sign a Living Will and have it witnessed, but not by anybody who