Thursday, July 7, 2016

Final Exit Network - Exposé in the Atlantic magazine.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Atlantic Magazine published an exposé on the Final Exit Network (FEN) that appears to promote their "services." FEN is an association of groups and individuals who assist the suicides of others by counseling, providing advice and providing the means for suicide.


The Atlantic does interview Stephen Drake, from Not Dead Yet, who is the longest and one of the most active critics of the Final Exit Network. According to the Atlantic:
Others opponents include disability-rights groups and hospices. Critics of the right-to-die movement have called Final Exit Network extremist. Some have even called it a death cult. Others have accused the group of glorifying suicide. One such band of critics is Not Dead Yet—essentially the antithesis of Final Exit Network. Not Dead Yet “is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia,” according to its website
Stephen Drake, a Not Dead Yet research analyst—who dubbed Final Exit Network “the Tea Party of the right-to-die movement”—said most people are missing the bigger picture. “The fact of the matter is they have no idea if [exit guides] are following their policy,” Drake said. “Lots of people who contemplate suicide change their mind. … Why would people who are old, ill, or disabled not change their minds at the last moment?”  
... 
Drake’s sentiments are well echoed among critics of the network. Stephen Rosenbaum, who has litigated in disability and civil rights law and teaches at the law schools of Golden Gate University and the University of California, Berkeley, characterizes Final Exit Network’s tactics as “stark” and “a little too far out there.”  “I am strongly ambivalent—and maybe even troubled—and see it as overkill in [how the network is] publicizing its mission,” he says. “If you really want to take to heart terms like ‘death with dignity’ … then your approach cannot be a slick, Madison Avenue-style advertisement for death.” 
Past articles about the Final Exit Network
The Final Exit Network will cover-up a suicide. The Atlantic article continued:
“Once the Exit Guides have determined the member has died, they will proceed to gather equipment used in the suicide. They will also collect all materials referencing any connection with Final Exit Network,” the statement reads. “If requested by the member, Exit Guides will also remove all other items indicating a suicide had occurred. Exit Guides subsequently dispose of these materials in a trash bin some distance away from the location of the suicide.”
John Celmer died in Georgia.
He was depressed but
recovering from cancer.
Final Exit Network lawyer, Robert Rivas, says that he understands that sometimes mistakes happen. The Atlantic article states:

He (Rivas) channels his bluntness into all of his exit guide training sessions. Before an exit guide sits with a person as they die, they sit in a room with Rivas as he explains the “looming possibility” that they could very well be prosecuted. 
Like in 2009, when four exit guides were jailed—then released after two days, when bail was made—and other members’ homes were searched amid a Georgia Bureau of Investigation national campaign to prosecute the network. The bureau seized “paperwork, records and computers,” from key members in the network, according to GBI. Investigators uncovered 523 names of people who reached out to Final Exit Network “for assistance with their suicide.” 
“Nobody knows better than I do, sometimes courts make mistakes. Exit guides make mistakes,” Rivas said. “It’s a looming possibility out there for every exit guide, and I make them say to themselves in training sessions: ‘I understand this is possible, and I’m prepared to accept that possibility.’”
The Final Exit Network claims that all of the suicide's are of people who are vetted and not mentally ill. The Atlantic then reported on the death of Jana Van Voorhis.
In 2007, Jana Van Voorhis, a 58-year-old woman from Phoenix, told Final Exit Network that she was dying of cancer. But Van Voorhis wasn’t dying at all. “She had no terminal illness,” says Jared Thomas, Van Voorhis’ brother-in-law, who found her body when he and his wife went to check on her at her home. “She was mentally ill. … She was a doctor-shopper.”... 
In 2007, Jana Van Voorhis, a 58-year-old woman from Phoenix, told Final Exit Network that she was dying of cancer. But Van Voorhis wasn’t dying at all. “She had no terminal illness,” says Jared Thomas, Van Voorhis’ brother-in-law, who found her body when he and his wife went to check on her at her home. “She was mentally ill. … She was a doctor-shopper.”
Thomas then says:
“One of our problems with the organization in this case was their arrogance,”
The Final Exit Network is once again trying to build an image of freedom fighters or "caring" advocates, when in fact they are people who based on a philosophy or a personal life experience have decided that some lives are better off dead, and they will help those people die.

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