updated June 16, 2017
Final Options Illinois
815-366-7942 or 224-565-1500
1055 W. Bryn Mawr #F212
Chicago IL 60660-4692
Options Illinois on YouTube
Illinois End of Life Options Coalition
Compassion and Choices
Death With Dignity National Center
Final Exit Network
ERGO -- website of Hemlock Society
founder Derek Humphry
Dying With Dignity Canada
Documents, books and links ...
Options Illinois -- our YouTube channel
- Aid in dying is not just an abstract concept. There are
many people here in Illinois, terminally ill and suffering
intolerably, who need the CHOICE that the Illinois
Patient Choice at End of Life Act will provide. And
there many people whose loved ones have suffered agonizing
deaths because Illinois doesn't have such a law. Our
YouTube channel presents some of their stories.
Options Illinois -- ad for March 11 2017 showing of "How To
Die In Oregon"
- A quarter-page ad, explaining what aid in dying is and why it
is so important, and advertising one of our screenings of the
wonderful film "How To Die In Oregon," appearing in the Rockford
Register-Star on March 7. Typical of the ads we've been
Options Illinois -- June/July 2017 newsletter
- Featuring stories on the first anniversary of aid in dying
being legal in both California and Canada, powerful articles
from the Chicago Tribune and New York Times profiling Ray Perman
and John Shields, respectively, and information about Compassion
& Choices' new "Truth In Treatment" initiative, aiming to
put people in charge of their health care decisions during their
Final Options Illinois -- February 2017 mailing
- With information about Judge Neil Gorsuch and how he is
clearly unqualified and unfit for the US Supreme Court.
Announcing Final Options Illinois Action, reporting on the new
Washington DC aid in dying law going into effect, and with
flyers for our March 20 coalition event "Truth In Treatment" and
two more showings of "How To Die In Oregon."
Final Options Illinois -- January 2017 newsletter
- With the news from Colorado, where aid in dying legislation
was approved on Nov. 8 by nearly two-thirds of voters, and from
Washington DC, where aid in dying was passed by the DC City
Council by an eleven to two majority and signed by Mayor Muriel
Bowser on Dec 19. Featuring a review of Diane Rehm's new
book "On My Own".
Options Illinois -- August 2016 newsletter
- With the news that aid in dying has gone live in California
and all across Canada, with an extended analysis of the
groundbreaking Canadian law plus the beautifully said preamble
to the Canadian law, and with the Op-Ed piece by Chicagoan
Miguel Carrasquillo published in the Chicago Tribune on April
Final Options Illinois -- January 2016 newsletter
- With the great news that California Governor Jerry Brown
signed the End of Life Option Act, and that the Quebec
aid-in-dying law has gone into effect, and with an extended
article about California by George Eighmey, President of the
Death With Dignity National Center
Final Options Illinois -- October 2015 newsletter
- Featuring articles on the California End of Life Option Act
and on the tremendous outpouring of public support for
Final Options Illinois -- July 2015 flyer
- "We're All Going To Die -- The Question is How?"
Explains death with dignity -- what it's about, our draft bill,
all in two easy pages.
Options Illinois -- How To Advocate for Aid In Dying
- A nine-page summary of how to advocate for our cause, what to
say, how to respond to opponents, best ways to convince your
friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues (January 2017)
Final Options Illinois -- Death With Dignity -- What You Can
- A brief description of the many ways that each of us can
contribute to advancing this vitally important cause (June 2015)
Hemlock of Illinois -- "It's Really Very Simple"
- A flyer included with our November 2014 newsletter
of Illinois -- our latest June 2015 newsletter
- Featuring news from Canada, California and New York
of Illinois -- our November 2014 newsletter
- Featuring reviews of the new book "Being Mortal", by Atul
Gawande, and advertising our December events
of Illinois -- our March 2014 newsletter
- Featuring the article "John Ashcroft Made An Activist Out of
Me", by Hemlock of Illinois board member Ken Leonard
Illinois -- our November 2013 newsletter
- Featuring the article "Death With Dignity -- What It Is, and
What It's Not", plus a review of the book "In Search of Gentle
Death -- The Fight For Your Right To Die With Dignity"
A Doctor's View of Death With Dignity
- Transcript of the program sponsored by Hemlock of Illinois, in
Chicago on December 8, 2013. Featuring Dr. Daniel Samo,
Dr. Dan Fintel, and Dr. Jorge del Castillo. Here's the
flyer for the program. And you can listen to the
Part 1 -- Introduction and first part of the panel discussion
-- about 51 minutes
Part 2 -- Second half of the panel, and questions and
discussion -- about 53 minutes
(Click on the link to play the mp3 file right in your browser,
or point to it, click your right-mouse button, and select "Save
target as" or "Save link as". Then you can save the file
to your computer and double-click on it to open it in any music
player such as Windows Media Player or Apple iTunes.)
A principled conservatism supports the right to aid-in-dying
- New York Times, October 19, 2014. A letter by Hemlock of
Illinois president Ed Gogol, pointing out the growth of the
worldwide movement for death with dignity, and urging
conservatives to support the right to aid-in-dying.
Chicago hosting right-to-die event -- Advocating for 'most
- Chicago Tribune, September 17, 2014, by Bonnie Rubin.
Powerful article about the conference of the World Federation of
Right-To-Die Societies and our campaign to pass an Oregon-style
aid-in-dying bill in Illinois. With quotes from Hemlock of
Illinois members Deborah Landis and Lynn Lawson, and a powerful
three-minute video interview with Lynn Lawson and her husband
Is Dying a Pro-Choice Issue? The Right-To-Die Movement
Gains National Attention
- Cover article in
The Humanist issue of January/February 2015 by Tone
Stockenstrom, about the World Federation Conference held in
Chicago in September 2014. With extensive quotes from
Hemlock of Illinois president Ed Gogol, Hemlock of Illinois
members Lynn and Court Lawson, author Derek Humphry, senior
medical director for Final Exit Network Dr. Richard MacDonald,
Canadian legislator Veronique Hivon, Archbishop Emeritus of
Capetown South Africa Desmond Tutu, and South African activist
Sean Davison. One of the best quotes: "'The
worldwide death-with-dignity movement is rapidly growing
because increasing numbers of people believe that being able
to control your own death is the ultimate human right', said
conference attendee Ed Gogol, a member of the American
Humanist Association and the president of Hemlock of Illinois
(an independent affiliate of the Final Exit Network).
'Mentally competent adults who are suffering intolerably have
a basic human right at the end of life to choose a peaceful,
dignified and pain-free death.'" Also see the
Editor's Note: A Watershed Moment for Death With Dignity,
by editor-in-chief Jennifer Bardi.
A Better Way Out
- An extremely important article by the famed physician Dr.
Marcia Angell, senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and
former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of
Medicine. In the New
York Review of Books, issue
of January 8, 2015. A detailed review of the the
book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the
End, and discusses the limitations of Gawande's book on
the subject of aid-in-dying. Decisively refutes Gawande's
concern that aid-in-dying might become a substitute for
palliative care, and uses the death of her husband, the famed
physician Dr. Arnold Relman, of an example of how horrible the
end of life can be. "The last four days of his life were,
rather abruptly, unspeakably difficult...I see no reason why my
husband, and the people who loved him, had to endure those last
days...There is no doubt in my mind that hospice is the best
option for helping dying patients during their last months,
but I am not at all sure it is adequate for the death itself...I
have long supported physician-assisted dying (and was a lead
petitioner in getting a Death with Dignity Act put on the
Massachusetts ballot.) More than ever, I believe dying
patients should have that choice. But after my
husband's death, I have come to favor euthanasia as well, for
home hospice patients in the final, agonal stage of dying, who
can no longer ingest medication orally. These patients
are usually no longer mentally clear enough to give
contemporaneous consent, but if they have earlier made it
known that this is what they would wish, I believe that a duly
appointed proxy should be able to have that wish carried out."
See also the
main page for Dr. Angell's writings in the New York Review of
Books, and her articles
May Doctors Help You to Die? (October 11, 2012) and
The Right To Death (November 8, 2012, decisively refuting
allegations against the Oregon law).
Offering a Choice to the Terminally Ill
- The New York Times, Sunday March 15, 2015. In its lead
editorial, our nation's most prestigious newspaper makes clear
that it supports the passage of aid-in-dying laws.
Describes "how successfully and responsibly the law has been
carried out in Oregon", and notes the law's "layers of
safeguards." Quotes Barbara Coombs Lee, president of
Compassion and Choices: "Making a secret process
transparent makes it safer."
Stigma Around Physician-Assisted Dying Lingers
- The New York Times, a column by Floyd Haberman, March 22,
2015. Interesting column about the history of the aid in
dying movement, written at the height of the ultimately
successful campaign for the California law. Quotes Dr.
Marcia Angell, former executive editor of the New England
Journal of Medicine, criticizing the AMA's opposition to
physician aid in dying: It "focuses too much on the
physician, and not enough on the patient." Writing in the
York Review of Books in 2012, Dr. Angell asked, "Why
should anyone -- the state, the medical profession, or anyone
else -- presume to tell someone else how much suffering they
must endure as their life is ending?"
Most U.S. Doctors Now Support Aid-In-Dying: Survey
- NBC News, December 16, 2014. Reports the results of the
latest survey of 21,000 US physicians by Medscape, showing that
for the first time a clear majority -- 56% -- support physician
aid-in-dying, up ten percentage points in only four years.
The percentage opposed dropped ten percentage points in four
years, down to 31%. Quotes famed medical ethicist Arthur
Caplan of New York University: "It represents a
remarkable shift. If physician opposition continues to
weaken, it is likely that despite fierce resistance from some
religious groups and some in the disability community, more
states will follow Oregon, Washington and Vermont and
Here's the link to the full survey at Medscape.
New Jersey's New Bill May Indicate Changing Views Toward
'Death With Dignity'
- By Annamarya Scaccia, December 4, 2014, on the website of RH
Reality Check -- Reproductive and Social Health &
Justice. Discusses the new bill which passed one house of
the New Jersey legislative in November, prospects for death with
dignity legislation, explores the links between opposition to
aid-in-dying and opponents of the right to abortion. With
quotes from Death With Dignity National Center president Peg
Sandeen and Hemlock of Illinois president Ed Gogol: "...there
has been little discussion about the intersection of 'death with
dignity' and feminism. Yet, agreed Sandeen and Gogol, both
movements are deeply intertwined in doctrine and opposition
because of what's at its core: choice. 'The
essential component of a civilized society is the right to
control your own body,' Gogol told RH Reality Check.
'It's exactly analogous.' Ultimately, the experts
say, having the legal right to choose when and how you die when
you're terminally ill is akin to having the legal rigt to
control one's reproductive choices -- and when and how to build
a family. Considering this similarity, they say, aid in
dying and broader end in life care should be a banner picked up
by the feminist movement."
At the Movies With The Right-To-Die Society
- Chicago Lawyer, November 2014, by Roy Strom.
Comprehensive article about our cause, about Hemlock of
Illinois, and the death with dignity law we've drafted for
Illinois, focused on the September 2014 World Federation
Conference held in Chicago. With quotes from Derek
Humphry, Hemlock of Illinois president Ed Gogol, executive
director of the Disability Rights Legal Center Kathryn Tucker,
famed Chicago attorney Fay Clayton, and ACLU legislative counsel
Quebec passes landmark end-of-life-care bill
- Canadian Broadcasting Co., June 5, 2014. An tremendous
victory for death with dignity, the bill passed with an
overwhelming 94 to 22 majority. "Sometimes when you are
suffering in pain, one hour can feel like one week...The
protection of the vulnerable is reflected in every aspect of
this bill," said Parti Quebecois member of the National Assembly
Veronique Hivon, who drafted the bill.
For the full text of the bill...
For the full text of the March 2012 report of the Quebec
legislature select committee on dying with dignity...
Canadian Supreme Court Says Yes to Aid-in-Dying in Some Cases
- Canadian Broadcasting Co., February 6, 2015. Reports the
momentous and unanimous decision by the Canadian Supreme Court
to declare that physician aid-in-dying is legal for terminally
ill, irremediably suffering patients. The video is
especially worth watching. Also see
Canada Court Strikes Down Ban on Aiding Patient Suicide,
in the February 6 New York Times.
Lawsuit Seeks to Legalize Doctor-Assisted Suicide for
Terminally Ill Patients in New York
- New York Times, February 3, 2015. Reports on the lawsuit
filed by terminally ill patients, their doctors (including the
famed physician Dr. Timothy Quill), and End of Life Choices New
York, to establish that prohibitions against "assisting in a
suicide", do not apply to doctors in the context of aiding their
terminally ill patients.
New Mexico Must Stand Strong and Allow Physician-Assisted
- in Huffington Post, March 21, 2014, by Steve Siebold.
It's a mistake to refer to death with dignity as "suicide", but
other than that this is a powerful and important piece.
Desmond Tutu: A dignified death is our right -- I am in
favor of assisted dying
- in The Guardian, July 12, 2014. An impassioned, profound
and important statement by the famed Desmond Tutu, archbishop
emeritus of Capetown South Africa, one of the world's truly
great human beings. Read this!
Rev. Tutu's welcoming video to the delegates to the 2014
World Federation Conference, on the website of Dignity South Africa.
Tutu in the Washington Post: "Dying people should have
the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth"
- in the Washington Post, October 6, 2016. An updated
profound statement by Nobel laureate archbishop Desmond
Tutu. Highly recommended. He writes, "Just as I have
argued firmly for fairness and compassion in life, I believe
that terminally ill people should be treated with the same
compassion and fairness when it comes to the their deaths.
Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they
leave Mother Earth. I believe that, alongside the
wonderful palliative care that exists, their choices should
include a dignified assisted death."
His concluding paragraph is especially relevant: "In
refusing people the right to die with dignity, we fail to
demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian
values. I pray that politicians, lawmakers and
religious leaders have the courage to support the choices
terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth.
The time to act is now."
We have to fight for the right to die
- In Salon, March 19, 2014, by Mary Elizabeth Williams. A
powerful last letter from an ailing Canadian man makes the case
'Aid in Dying' Movement Takes Hold in Some States
- New York Times, February 8, 2014. The lead article in
the New York Times on that day, showcasing how our movement has
come of age. Focuses on the growing public support for
death-with-dignity, and highlights Robert Mitton, suffering and
near death in Colorado. "I am facing my imminent death",
he is quoted as saying, and asks why people in Montana and New
Mexico "are able to die with dignity and I am not. This
should be a basic human right." Be sure also to read
Robert Mitton's blog at
Death With Dignity Gaining Life
- Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2013. An interview with
Dr. Daniel Samo of Chicago, who was one of the featured speakers
at our program, "A Doctor's View of Death With Dignity", on
December 8, 2013.
I Hope My Father Dies Soon
- Scott Adams, the cartoonist and creator of Dilbert, rails
on his blog against the evil of those who would vote against
death with dignity laws. Powerful stuff. Published
November 23, 2013.
Cartoonist's tirade poses serious questions about dying
- Columnist Eric Zorn, in the Chicago Tribune, November 27,
2013, pondering Scott Adams' blog post. "The issue isn't
exactly front burner," writes Zorn. "Until, of course, you
or those you love become terminally ill, and then it's on full
In Ill Doctor, a Surprise Reflection of Who Picks Assisted
- New York Times, August 11, 2012. Details the history of
the death with dignity laws in Oregon and Washington, showing
conclusively the benefits of these laws and that there is no
"slippery slope" pushing anybody to end their lives prematurely.
Over My Dead Body: Helping the terminally ill to die,
once taboo, is gaining acceptance
- The Economist, October 20, 2012. An important and
informative survey of growing acceptance of death with dignity,
in Europe and the English-speaking world. Debunks the
"slippery slope" argument and has many statistics about death
with dignity worldwide. Check out the final section about
the "Liverpool care pathway for the dying patient."
The Good Short Life -- by Dudley Clendinen
- New York Times, July 9, 2011. A moving and powerful
article by the journalist and author, detailing his plans to
make a final exit to avoid suffering through death by ALS.
The End -- by Nontheist
- The Humanist, September/October 2013. An incredibly
moving and powerful description of one man's decision to make a
final exit before descending into the depths of Alzheimer's, by
How Doctors Die -- In Coming to Grips With Their Own
Mortality, They Are Showing the Way for Others
- New York Times, November 20, 2013. A portrayal of Dr.
Elizabeth McKinley, suffering from advanced cancer, who chose to
forego aggressive treatment in favor of a better quality of life
in her remaining time. Powerful and farsighted.
- Ken Murray, MD, in the Saturday Evening Post, March/April
2013. A profound statement of the importance of avoiding
futile medical care at end of life -- care which only increases
suffering -- and of the factors which give rise to these
Do Not Resuscitate: What Young Doctors Would Choose
- New York Times, May 20, 2014. How an overwhelming
percentage of doctors, even young ones, say they want no heroic
measures at end-of-life. Says one, about
resuscitation: "Doctors see a lot...you know too much, and
you're much more way."
A Good Death: How Boomers Will Change The World a Final
Time -- by Dan Kadlec
- Time Magazine, August 14, 2013. Our movement goes
mainstream. "We are now seeing the beginnings of a broad
movement that will change the game for good. People are
starting to think about aid-in-dying as the next civil rights
movement. Death with dignity is the final frontier of
human rights and freedom of expression."
Sunday Dialogue: Choosing How We Die
- New York Times, March 31, 2013. A letter to the editor
by Janice Lynch Schuster, followed by responses from Derek
Humphry, Betty Rollin and others. Some good and some
not-so-good, but all worth reading. Illustrates an
important point: we all have different viewpoints about
end of life, but it is critical that mentally competent adults
have the option to cut their suffering short should
they choose to.
Do Not Resuscitate, Do Not Feel Remorse -- by Candy Schulman
- Chicago Tribune, July 14, 2011. The author describes her
caregiving for her mother, suffering from advanced dementia.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep -- by Roger Ebert
- from Roger Ebert's website, June 29, 2011. The famed
movie critic discusses assisted dying and explains why it should
Letting Go -- Exploring the flaws of American health care at
the end of life -- by Abraham Verghese
- New York Times, September 8, 2013. A powerful review of
the new book, Knocking
On Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,
by Katy Butler. Documents the suffering caused by
aggressive but futile medical treatment at life's end, and
posits a better way. Recommended.
What Broke My Father's Heart -- by Katy Butler
- New York Times Magazine, June 18, 2010. One of the
articles that served as the basis for Ms. Butler's powerful new
book, about her father's suffering and her inability to get
doctors to turn off her father's pacemaker when keeping it on
was only prolonging his sufffering.
Vermont Passes 'Aid-in-Dying' Measure
- New York Times, May 14, 2013. The wonderful news when
Vermont became the third state with an aid-in-dying law and the
first to be passed by a state legislature.
One Piece of Health Reform: Avoiding 'Bad' Deaths
- New York Times, August 18, 2009. Excellent article by
Jane Brody about complex and difficult end-of-life
choices. "Most measures taken when patients are terminally
ill, including the use of feeding tubes, ventilators and
cardiopulmonary resuscitation, do nothing to prolong meaningful
life. Rather, as Dr. Jeff Gordon put it in the title of
his new book, they represent 'A Death Prolonged.'"
Sherwin B. Nuland, 'How We Die' Author, Dies at 83
- New York Times, March 5, 2014. Obituary for Dr. Nuland,
the author of the 1994 book How We Die, which "described
in frank detail the processes by which life succumbs to
violence, disease or old age." As Dr. Nuland wrote, "The
dignity we seek in dying must be found in the dignity with which
we have lived our lives."
A 'Code Death' for Dying Patients
- New York Times, April 10, 2014, by Dr. Jessica Zitter.
Describes sensible and compassionate procedures to ease the
passing and comfort the families of dying patients in the
intensive care unit.
Extend Death With Dignity Nationwide
- Freethought Today, March 2014. A profound column by
Annie Laurie Gaylor, about "the inhumanity of our society toward
the dying." Highlights the vital importance of people
knowing about the full range of end-of-life choices -- no one
who is suffering intolerably should have to resort to violent
Exit Network can help!
Year's End a Good Time to Consider End-of-Life Plans
- Chicago Tribune, December 9, 2013, by Barbara Brotman.
Excellent article on the importance of getting those
Bill would add to end-of-life care
- Chicago Tribune, June 14, 2014, by Barbara Brotman.
About the new bill just passed in Illinois strengthening and
expanding the POLST (Physician's Orders for Life-Sustaining
Minister Normal Lamb backs assisted dying bill
- From the BBC, July 17, 2014. An interview with Normal
Lamb, member of Parliament, who says he has "changed his mind",
and now supports the passage of death-with-dignity law in the
U.K. He is quoted as saying, "I think there are very clear
safeguards, the safeguards are absolutely critical, in a sense
it was the fear of exploitation which always caused me concern
in the past. But ultimately, should we stand in the way of
someone wanting to make their own decision about their life, or
should we set the safeguards in place to ensure that there is
every chance of avoiding that exploitation? I'm very clear
in my mind that the individual should be the person who decides,
not the state."
The Dying Die! -- A U.K. cardiologist speaks up for
healthcare's last taboo
- By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon, August 1, 2014 -- an
impassioned and profound piece.
Dead at noon: B.C. woman ends her life rather than
suffer indignity of dementia
- Vancouver Sun, August 21, 2014, by Denise Ryan. About
Gillian Bennett, 85, descending into dementia after a long and
happy life, choosing to hasten her death. Moving and
informative. See especially her website dedicated to
explaining her point of view at www.deadatnoon.com.
When Medicine is Futile
- New York Times, September 9, 2014, by Barron H. Lerner, MD and
professor of medicine at New York University. An important
discussion of medical futility -- when aggressive care can bring
no benefit and only increase suffering.
Panel Urges Overhauling Health Care At End of Life
- New York Times, September 18, 2014. Article about the
new report issued by Institute of Medicine calling for
comprehensive reform to increase access to palliative care,
provide care at home, etc.
Click here to download either the summary or the full report.
Dying Without Morphine
- New York Times, October 1, 2014, by Ronald Piana.
"Imagine watching a loved one moaning in pain, curled into a
fetal ball, pleading for relief. Then imagine that his or
her pain could be relieved by an inexpensive drug, but the drug
was unavailable. Each day about six million terminal
cancer patients around the world suffer that fate because they
do not have access to morphine, the gold standard of cancer pain
control. The World Health Organization has stated that
access to pain treatment, including morphine, is an essential
human right." An impassioned plea to remedy this
horrendous situation. Access to health care must be a
Christian Perspective on Choice in Dying
- by Episcopal Bishop Shelby Spong, at the 14th national
conference of the Hemlock Society, January 2003. "I think
this choice should be legal. I will work...to create a
world where...physicians will assist those, who choose to do so,
with the ability to die at the appropriate time. I also
think the choice to do this should be acclaimed as both moral
and ethical, a human right if you will...The God whom I
experience can surely not be served by those in whom death is
simply postponed or not allowed to serve its natural
function." and from his congressional testimony: "I
come to these conclusions as a Christian...My personal creed
asserts that every person is sacred. I see the holiness of
life enhanced, not diminished, by letting people have a say in
how they choose to die."
Fighting to Honor a Father's Last Wish: To Die At Home
- by Nina Bernstein, New York Times, September 25, 2014.
Powerful and disturbing article detailing one woman's struggle
to get end of life care for her father at home instead of in
institutions, and the twisted financial incentives that make
this so hard.
India and The Right to Suicide
- by Jerry Pinto, New York Times, December 28, 2014.
Describes the sad situation in India where archaic laws still
criminalize suicide and ill people and their families are
subject to prosecution and shakedowns.
No One Should Have The Right To Die Until God is Done Toying
- The Onion, November 11, 2014. Hilarious satire of the
concept that suffering is enobling.
Israelis must not stop fighting for physician-assisted suicide
- By Avinoam Reches, January 6, 2015, in the Israeli newspaper
Haaretz. Reports on the "courageous decision" of an
Israeli court ruling that allowed a patient with terminal ALS to
end his life. "To preface a necessary debate on this
subject within Israeli society, it is worth repeating the
words of the famous cardiac surgeon Prof. Christiaan
Barnard: 'I have learned from my life in medicine that
death is not always the enemy. Often it is good medical
treatment. Often it achieves what medicine cannot
achieve -- it stops suffering.'"
Patient Autonomy Gone Wrong: When Doing Everything is
Way Too Much
- by Jessica Nitter, New York Times, February 8, 2015.
Archetypal example of the perils of staying alive at all costs,
of failing to shift focus from cure to care at the appropriate
California Medical Association Removes Opposition to Physician
Aid In Dying Bill
- A statement by the California Medical Association, May 20,
2015. The CMA announces that it is officially "neutral" on
Senate Bill 128, the End of Life Option Act, becoming the first
state medical association to drop its opposition to physician
aid-in-dying. Even better, the language of the CMA
statement makes clear that the organization’s leadership
supports the bill: “As
physicians, we want to provide the best care possible for our
patients. However, despite the remarkable medical
breakthroughs we’ve made and the world-class hospice or
palliative care we can provide, it isn’t always enough,” said
Dr. Luther F. Cobb, the association’s president. “The decision
to participate in the End of Life Option Act is a very
personal one between a doctor and their patient, which is why
CMA has removed policy that outright objects to physicians
aiding terminally ill patients in end of life options. We
believe it is up to the individual physician and their patient
to decide voluntarily whether the End of Life Option Act is
something in which they want to engage. Protecting that
physician-patient relationship is essential.”
Senate Panel Should Let Right To Die Bill Move Forward
- A strongly worded editorial by the Los Angeles Times, May 22,
2015, endorsing Senate Bill 128: “As
polls have shown consistently, a strong majority of
Californians believe that terminally ill people should be able
to end their lives peacefully and without pain when death is
near. The state’s residents have waited too long … The
Senate needs to move this bill along; the right to make one’s
own, final medical decisions should be obvious by now…The
California Medical Association’s change in position is an
acknowledgement that attitudes have evolved, including among
many of its members. The organization explained its
change of heart by saying that this is a private medical
decision between patient and doctor. Exactly.”
bill approved by California Senate
- Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2015. The California Senate
passes SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, by a strong 24 to 13
majority !!! "Passage of the bill, authored by [Senator
Lois] Wolk and Democratic Sen. Bill Monning, would permit the
terminally ill 'to voluntarily end their lives in peace,' she
said. Wolk talked of the prolonged, 'brutal' death of her
own mother from cancer and said the proposed law would give
Californians an alternative to such suffering."
Last Day of Her Life
- by Robin Marantz Henig, The New York Times Magazine, May 14,
2015. Important and fascinating article about Sandy Bem,
famed Cornell University psychology professor, who chose to
hasten her death when she was diagnosed with early-stage
Lessons, Sadly Relearned
- by Paula Span, in "The New Old Age" blog, in the New York
Times, May 26, 2015. Important lessons for end of life
care, learned from experience.
Physician Aid in Dying Gains Acceptance in the U.S.
- by Paula Span, in "The New Old Age" blog, in the New York
Times, Jan. 16, 2017. Ms Span notes that "the
country has arrived at a remarkable moment: Close to 20
percent of Americans live in jurisdictions where adults can
legally end their lives if they are terminally ill and meet
eligibility requirements." Describing the growing
acceptance of aid in dying, Ms. Span quotes Donna Smith,
legislative manager for the District of Columbia for Compassion
& Choices, "I hear talk all the time about this being a rich
white person's issue. Now we have proof on the ground that
this is not true." The Times notes that "In the District
of Columbia, nearly half of whose residents are
African-American, five of six black council members voted in
favor of the legislation."
- by Annabelle Gurwitch, in the New York Times, June 10,
2015. A personal story of one group of friend's efforts to
assist a dying friend -- highlighting the importance of making
To Talk About Dying
- by Ellen Goodman, in the New York Times, July 1, 2015.
An impassioned story by the famed writer and founder of The Conversation
Project. Dedicated to the concept that the single
most important thing about avoiding a bad death is to talk about
it -- with your loved ones, the person who has your power of
attorney, and your doctors -- making it clear what care you do
and don't want. With excellent "starter kits" to get the
in Dying Movement Advances
- Editorial in the New York Times, October 10, 2016, in which
the Times makes clear its support for aid in dying.
Responding to the statement by the New York Medical Society
opposing aid in dying, the Times writes: "In fact,
terminal patients in excruciating pain and their relatives
contemplate these implications every day around the
country. There is no compelling reason to deprive them of
physician-assisted dying as one option alongside high-quality
innovative palliative care." The editorial describes how
the issue became personal for New York assemblywoman Amy Paulin,
when her sister was dying of ovarian cancer. "'The pain
was unbelievable,' Ms. Paulin said, describing her sister's
final days. 'She would be crying in agony.' If her
sister had lived in a state where requesting a lethal dose of
medicine was legal, Ms. Paulin said, she may have been spared
days of misery. 'It would have been a much better
Universalist Association policy on aid in dying - "The Right
To Die With Dignity"
- The official policy of the Unitarian Universalist Association
-- The 1988 General Resolution -- fascinating and
important. Opens with a profound statement: "Guided
by our belief as Unitarian Universalists that human life has
inherent dignity, which may be compromised, when life is
extended beyond the will or ability of a person to sustain that
dignity; and believing that it is every person's inviolable
right to determine in advance the course of action to be taken
in the event that there is no reasonable expectation of recovery
from extreme physical or mental disability..." Concludes
that "Unitarian Universalists advocate the right to
self-determination in dying, and the release from civil or
criminal penalties of those who, under proper safeguards, act to
honor the right of terminally ill patients to select the time of
their own deaths..."
At The End of Life
- The history of Unitarian involvement in advancing the cause of
aid in dying. By Elaine McArdle, in UU World, April 25,
a Nursing Home Shouldn't Be Trial and Error
- Jane Brody's "Personal Health" column in the New York Times
from August 4, 2014 -- vitally important information for people
evaluating the suitability of a nursing home for a loved one
- "The End -- A Parting Gift -- The Death and Life of John
Audio and Video
from the World Federation Conference
- December 6, 2014 -- video of the Hemlock of Illinois event
reporting on the World Federation Conference held in Chicago
in September 2014 -- with presentations from Deborah Scott,
Joan Sophie and Ed Gogol. Reports on the worldwide
movement. About sixty minutes with another 30 minutes of
discussion and videos.
- Website for Brittany Maynard, the courageous Californian
with aggressive brain cancer who has moved to Oregon to take
advantage of its progressive death with dignity law.
Also watch the
interview with Ms. Maynard on CBS Morning News on
October 14, 2014.
End of Life Decisions
- Excellent interview with Hemlock of Illinois president Ed
Gogol, on the "Chicago Tonight" program hosted by Phil Ponce,
on Chicago PBS station WTTW, on September 24, 2014
Is There an Ideal Age to Die?
- Commentary by Hemlock of Illlinois president Ed Gogol, on
the "Chicago Tonight" website on October 7, 2014, responding
to an article by Ezekiel Emanuel.
Canada considers right-to-die policies
- In-depth conversation with Veronique Hivon, legislator in
the Canadian province of Quebec, and the person most
responsible for the 2014 passage of Quebec's groundbreaking
aid-in-dying law. On the "Worldview" program of
Chicago's WBEZ radio station (part of National Public Radio),
September 17, 2014.
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Only as a Last Resort
- Famed medical ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan announces his
support for legalized aid-in-dying, as it's done in Oregon,
Washington and Vermont! In print and video, on Medscape,
on September 24, 2014. Sign up for a free Medscape
account to read and view.
"The Suicide Plan" on FrontLine
- The documentary on assisted dying produced by Boston PBS
station WGBH, first aired on PBS on November 30, 2012.
Covers Final Exit, Compassion and Choices, and Derek
Humphry. Gives more than equal time to opponents to
spread distortions, but well worth watching.
Suicide Tourist" on FrontLine
- A powerful documentary about Craig Ewert, terminally ill
with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), facing a horrible death, who
went to Switzerland to end his life with the assistance of the
wonderful Swiss group Dignitas
Hartmann calls for Death With Dignity Laws across the nation
- The popular commentator quotes Dilbert cartoonist
Scott Adams and calls for the passage of death with dignity
laws across the nation.
"Honey" -- award-winning Italian film by Valeria Golino
about death with dignity
- This powerful drama played in Chicago in early May,
2014. It tells the story of Irene, who has an unusual
and secret profession. She tells people she's a
student. In reality she helps terminally ill people die
with dignity. As the film progresses, she develops a
strong, conflicted relationship with one of her clients.
The film is by famed Italian actress and director Valeria
Golino and stars Jasmine Trinca and Carlo Cechhi.
It's an official selection of the Cannes and Venice Film
Festivals. The New York Times calls it "an impressive
debut," the New Republic says it's "a brilliant and original
picture...seek it out," and the Hollywood Reporter writes that
it's "mature and startlingly cinematic."
To Die in Oregon
- Website for the award-winning documentary about the
compassionate relief provided by the death-with-dignity law in
Oregon, and the successful campaign to pass a similar law in
Washington state in 2008. Highly recommended.
of Illinois on Chicago Public Access TV
- Twelve shows by Hemlock of Illinois, featuring Jerry Dincin
and Rosalie Guttman, which aired from May through December in
Rev. Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown South
Africa, welcomes delegates to the 2014 World Federation
- September 2014, on the website of Dignity
South Africa. Wow !!!!! -- What a
African activist Sean Davison arrives home
- May 2012, on South African TV. Sean Davison arrives
home in South Africa after serving his sentence in New Zealand
for helping his mother die. Powerful stuff, watch this!
New Life for the Aid-in-Dying Movement
- by Julia Jacobs, on Evanston radio station WNUR, January 30,
2015. 23 minutes. With quotes from Khadine Bennett
of the ACLU of Illinois, George Eighmey of the Death With
Dignity National Center, and Hemlock of Illinois members Lynn
and Court Lawson and Ed Gogol
- Absolutely stupendous Israeli comedy by Sharon Maymon and
Tal Granit, released in the US on May 22, 2015. Moving,
compassionate, profound, and often hilarious. Tells the
story of a group of friends at a Jerusalem retirement home who
together help a terminally ill friend – in a surprisingly
‘creative’ way. When rumors of their assistance begin to
spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the
friends are suddenly faced with a life and death
dilemma. Winner of 4 Ophir Awards (the Israeli Academy
Awards), including Best Actor for acclaimed Israeli actor
Ze’ev Revach, the film received a total of 14 nominations,
including for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and
Best Actress. Really makes plain why we need to make
aid-in-dying legal everywhere, and why until we do, brave
souls will take great personal risks to help their loved ones
Best Way To Say Goodbye: A Legal Peaceful Choice At The End
- by Stanley A. Terman, PhD, MD. A very detailed
discussion of many aspects of death with dignity, focusing
especially on VSED (Voluntary Stopping of Eating and
Drinking), otherwise known as "refusing food and
fluids". Published 2007 by Life Transitions
We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter
- by the late Sherwin B. Nuland, MD. A profound and
important, detailed description of the physical realities of
dying and death. First published in 1995. Read
this to understand the true realities of dying, and how
horrible it can be, and why the right to hasten one's death
must become a fundamental human and legal right.
Search of Gentle Death: The Fight for Your Right to
Die with Dignity
- by Richard N. Côté. Explores the rapid evolution and
accelerating growth of the modern death-with-dignity movement
in the United States and abroad from 1975 to the
present. Highly recommended.
Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer
to Help You and Your loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally,
and Emotionally for the End of Life
- by Jane Brody. An excellent and highly worthwhile
book, covering all aspects of end-of-life and avoiding a bad
death. In chapter 14, on assisted dying ("what to
consider when illness is unbearable"), she covers both sides
of the argument, but ends by concluding, when thinking about
her own mother's suffering, "at the same time, having
witnessed her physical deterioration and existential suffering
first-hand, I believe that even with the best possible
physical and emotional support, had I been in her shoes, I,
too, would have chosen the option of a hastened demise."
(Which is what it's all about, providing a choice!)
Knocking On Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of
- by Katy Butler. A profile by the award-winning
journalist of her father's extended and horrible dying
process, followed by the more gentle passing of her
mother. Argues forcefully for letting nature take its
course when further medical treatment will yield only
suffering, and for accepting death as natural. Offers
much valuable advice for caregivers. Highly
recommended. Here's the
excellent book review from the New York Times, in
the Waiting Room: Managing a Loved One's End-of-Life
- by Bart Windrum. A detailed discussion about the
realities of hospitalization for the end-of-life patient, with
many tips for family members. His thesis is that
hospitals don't provide "care" as laypeople understand it, but
rather "bodily-repair services". Includes in-depth
discussions about power-of-attorney documents and
do-not-resuscitate orders. Concludes with an extended
discussion of alternatives to dying in hospitals, and proposes
a new model for end-of-life care. Recommended.
Articles about Jerry Dincin
To Die Advocate Jerry Dincin Awaits His Own Exit
- Chicago Magazine, August 2012. A wonderful and
powerful portrait of Jerry. "Dincin is far from the
typical North Shore retiree. He is one of the nation's
most prominent right-to-die advocates. From 2009 to
2011, he was president of the Final Exit Network, a
controversial nonprofit group that aims to help the terminally
ill and those suffering from unbearable pain who want to
choose when their lives end. He says that he has been
present with 14 such people ... Dincin calls the right to die
"the ultimate civil right."
Jerry Dincin, Right-To-Die Advocate, Has died
- Chicago Magazine online, March 26, 2013.
Final Exit Network announces the passing of Jerry Dincin
- Final Exit Network website, March 26, 2013
Jerry Dincin, 1930-2013: At Thresholds, He Found Housing and
Jobs For Mentally Ill
- Chicago Tribune, March 29, 2013
Jerry Dincin, 82, Mental Health Expert
- Chicago Sun-Times, March 28, 2013
Jerry Dincin, a leader for death-with-dignity, loses cancer
battle: "End-of-life liberty is the ultimate civil
- originally published on the Hemlock of Illinois website,
March 26, 2013
The death with dignity movement has
lost a great national leader. Jerry Dincin, Ph.D., died at
age 82 on March 26, 2013, after a long battle with prostate
cancer. He served as President of Final Exit Network from
2009 through 2012. Before becoming active in the movement,
he had a long career as a major innovator in the field of
Dr. Dincin was diagnosed with cancer
In 2001, only a few weeks after marrying Suzanne
Streicker. “I wasn’t prepared to die, and I didn’t like my
attitude about death and dying. Our culture avoids the
subject and treats it like a taboo, which is unfortunate,” said
Dr. Dincin. So, in 2004, he attended a workshop
about death and dying at a Buddhist monastery led by Joan
Halifax. “The workshop changed my attitude and made death
feel more natural.”
The following year in 2005, he became
active in Final Exit Network (FEN), a national organization
whose purpose is to obtain the basic human right of competent
adults to end their lives on their own terms if they are
suffering from irreversible illness or intractable pain and no
longer want to live.
“I still had energy, so I became a
board member and an exit guide right away. I was an exit
guide fourteen times, and I never did anything but be there as a
witness.” Dr. Dincin said that being an exit guide
was the deepest and most humane experience he had ever
had. “It was ethically, morally, politically
correct. I felt like I was giving the biggest gift
possible to a fellow human who was suffering deeply – the gift
of your compassionate presence. Most people have a fear of
dying alone with no one to comfort them.”
Then in February 2009, four volunteer
members of Final Exit Network were arrested and charged with
felony crimes of “assisting in a suicide” in Georgia. The
organization’s bank accounts were seized. Then a second
case hit, when authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, brought similar
felony charges against three other FEN volunteers and its
medical director, Dr. Larry Egbert, who had been charged in
Dr. Dincin had become president of
Final Exit Network a week before the Georgia arrests
happened. He rallied the organization and raised new funds
to mount legal defenses for its volunteers. “The legal
assault began on practically the first day Jerry took over as
president,” said Florida lawyer Robert Rivas, who is FEN’s
general counsel. “Thanks to Jerry’s leadership and
resolve, the prosecutions in Arizona and Georgia were a complete
failure, and FEN is thriving.”
All the Georgia charges were dismissed
after the Georgia Supreme Court found the Georgia statute on
“assisting in a suicide” to be unconstitutional.
Ultimately, the Arizona prosecutions failed also.
At the time of his death, Dr. Dincin
and two other volunteers for Final Exit Network were under
indictment on charges stemming from the 2007 Minnesota case of
Doreen N. Dunn. Dr. Dincin had served as an exit guide for
Ms. Dunn. “We did nothing wrong, ethically or
legally. We never assist. Dunn
suffered from horrible constant pain throughout her body, and I
am convinced she did the right thing,” said Dr. Dincin.
“How can it be illegal to offer
comfort and compassion to a person who is dying? The
Minnesota case is just another battle in the war we are fighting
to grant people this basic civil right – the right to control
your own life and death,” said Dr. Dincin shortly before his
death. “It is as important a right as racial or gender
civil rights – or the right to abortion or to vote. I know
that we will be victorious because people should be able to
choose how they die and to receive help with their decision.”
In addition to his work with Final
Exit Network, Dr. Dincin also served as a Board Member and as
Vice President of Hemlock of Illinois for a number of years.
Dr. Dincin was born August 20, 1930 in
Brooklyn, New York. Though he was only 16 when his father
died in 1947, he and his mother took over the father’s furniture
business, but he knew it wasn’t the right career for him.
Dr. Dincin received a Bachelor’s Degree from Brooklyn College
and a Master’s Degree in Sociology at Case Western Reserve in
Ohio in 1955, but continued in the family business to help his
In June 1958, he began work at New
York City’s highly innovative Fountain House, a community-based,
psychiatric rehabilitation center led by John Beard that served
as a model for many facilities around the United States.
“John Beard inspired me throughout my career to think creatively
when working with the mentally ill,” said Dr. Dincin. He
started two programs in New Jersey similar to Fountain House in
Dr. Dincin moved to Chicago in 1965 to
take over a small organization called Threshholds, which had a
staff of 4. By 2002 when he retired, the staff had grown
to 900, and it had become one of the country’s premier
psychiatric rehabilitation centers, serving 6000 persons
annually. His creativity, passion, dedication, and
advocacy on behalf of those with serious mental illnesses led to
revolutionary service innovations, such as employment, supported
housing, education, and home and community outreach, all of
which defied stigmas and fostered dignity and independence.
When he first arrived in Chicago,
there were no out-patient programs for psychiatric
rehabilitation. “In 1965, it was unheard of that
psychiatric patients could even work,” said Dr. Dincin.
“We started a job program and a housing program, and by the time
I left in 2002, we had about 1,000 people living in safe,
decent, affordable housing.”
Dr. Dincin invented four totally
innovative programs at Threshholds for people with mental
illness – for adolescents, deaf people, mothers, and
ex-prisoners. “Until then, deaf people with mental illness
were treated as if they were retarded in hospitals.”
The organization grew and established branches throughout the
“The agency is still doing well, and I
feel proud that we were able to establish a way for many
thousands of mentally ill people to participate in our society
who would previously have been unable to,” Dr. Dincin said
shortly before his death. Threshholds won prizes from the
American Psychiatric Association, and many other organizations
Dr. Dincin earned his Ph.D. in
clinical psychology from Northwestern University in 1976.
“It was an accomplishment – running the agency full-time and
going to school part-time,” he said.
He met his second wife, Suzanne
Streicker, in 1976 when she was working at Threshholds as a
Social Worker. “It was thrilling to be on the forefront –
the leading edge of psychiatric rehabilitation,” she says, and
adds “There was always good energy at Threshholds when Jerry was
Dr. Dincin was the son of Herman and
Renee Dincin, émigrés from Russia and Rumania. He is
survived by his wife Suzanne Streicker, a sister Zola Schneider
in Washington, D.C., and his four children. He had seven
If you wish to honor Jerry’s memory,
please send a contribution in his name to Final Exit Network