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Derek Humphry, author of the book Final Exit and founder of the Hemlock Society, an organization that advocates that terminally ill people should have the right to end their suffering by taking their own lives, hosts this subdued yet inevitably controversial video. Beginning by telling the story of how he helped his first wife to end her own life when her terminal cancer became unbearable, Humphry then moves on to a discussion of the legal ramifications of what he euphemistically terms "self-deliverance." The low-key (and low-budget) presentation, which mostly consists of Humphry delivering a monologue while seated behind a desk in what appears to be his organization's office, then turns to practical advice that many people would consider utterly ghoulish. Make no mistake, this is a tape designed to show people the best way to end their own lives, and watching it can be disturbing, despite Humphry's insistence that he is speaking about very particular circumstances involving the terminally ill (and he stresses that he is not addressing people suffering from mental illness or depression). As unsettling as this all is, anyone seeking out this video for its shock value will be disappointed, as it is, to be honest, utterly clinical and not in any way exciting to watch. Of course, the ethical questions about this entire subject are enormous, as are the legal issues. And while Humphry has the right to present his material, it goes without saying that anyone seriously thinking about such serious matters should be seeking far more wisdom than what could be found on a videotape. --Robert J. McNamaraAbout the Director:
Derek Humphry is an international journalist and author who has been campaigning for the right to choose to die for more than 20 years. He began this struggle soon after his first wife, Jean, dying of bone cancer, asked him to help her commit suicide to escape further unbearable suffering.
The incongruity of risking imprisonment for a crime that he considered a necessary act of love was the spur to fight for law reform. Almost every country in the world deems voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide a crime. The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Oregon are the only exceptions, and the Oregon law is under heavy pressure to be destroyed by the US Congress.
Humphry has written six books on the subject of euthanasia -- assisted good death. 'Jean's Way' was a bestseller in Britain and Australia, while 'Final Exit' was at one point in l991 the bestselling nonfiction book in North America, and remaining 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists.
'Final Exit' has been translated into 12 languages and sold more than a million copies. With a new edition in 1997, 'Final Exit' remains the most used textbook by terminally ill people for voluntary death.
Humphry founded the Hemlock Society in l980 and over the next 12 years built it into a respected, national organization. In l993 he started the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization. He is a director of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.
The video Realizing that not everybody wishes to plough through a book, Humphry has now produced a video version of 'Final Exit' which is even more up to date than the book. The 34-minute film, made by professional lighting and camera persons, through words, pictures, and captions guides the viewer through the complex steps for euthanasia. Guidance on how to avoid breaking the law is an essential part of the video. It was completed in October l999.
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