Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Final Exit Network - Reframing Themselves and Erasing the Past

This is a reprint from the Not Dead Yet Blog written by Stephen Drake. Drake is covering a significant topic because the Final Exit Network is trying to reframe who they are in order to survive the legal challenge they are facing.

The information that Drake is writing about was also blogged by myself when it first came out in November 2008. It is interesting how my comments at that time correlate with what is actually happening today. Link to my blog comment:

Link to the original blog comment:

Alex Schadenberg

(Note - please read to the end. The main point of this story is that the Final Exit Network seems to have taken some pains to eliminate traces of a November '08 press release that might interfere with current efforts to improve their public image. --Stephen)

Unfortunately, there's been a small rash of elderly men killing - or
attempting to kill - their ill wives in the past couple weeks. One, in Tucson, Arizona, involves a middle-aged man who allegedly killed his wife, who has been struggling with Huntington's disease - a progressive neurological condition that affects the motor and cognitive abilities.

From the latest story in the Arizona Daily Star:

A Tucson man who told police he killed his wife because she was terminally ill likely did so because he felt he could no longer care for her and had no other options, members of a local support group say.

Sanford Garfinkel, 51, is in the Pima County Jail, booked on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 56-year-old Mary Garfinkel, his wife of 19 years.

This isn't the first time the Arizona Daily Star has covered the issue of assisted suicide - and it isn't the first time they've featured the Final Exit Network either.

Unsurprisingly, the portrayal of the Final Exit Network and its agenda is misrepresented in the interview included in this recent press coverage:

Without a law allowing assisted suicide, groups such as Final Exit Network have stepped in to provide access to volunteers who give what they say is "guidance, education and support" to people who intend to take their own lives, said Robert Rivas, an attorney for the New Jersey-based nonprofit organization.

"Final Exit Network would rather never do what they do," Rivas said. "If assisted-suicide laws were in existence in every state we'd be happy to completely be phased out."

What assisted laws would those be, I wondered. As we've mentioned before here, the organization issued a press release in November 2008 that stated the assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington didn't go "far enough" and they would be assisting "suffering" people everywhere until there were more expansive laws.

Yesterday, I did what I did in previous instances of this kind of misleading spin - went to the Final Exit Network website to access the press release issued in November 2008.

It's not there anymore. The site has been revised and for whatever reason(use your imagination)it has been removed.

Next, I went to The Internet Archive, which accesses the files on websites across the net and archives them. The site contains the files and material from websites that don't even exist any more. The site is that extensive and that good.

The press release isn't there, either. In fact, there aren't any archives for the site for the whole year of 2008. That is very unusual - I won't even hazard a guess as to why there isn't a set of 2008 archives for the site.

Luckily, though, I printed out several copies of the press release some months ago. In case there is any lingering confusion in anyone's mind, it is the clear statement by the Final Exit Network that the types of assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington State don't go "far enough" and that they'll keep facilitating suicides for people until the laws become expansive enough to satisfy them.

Here is a link to a pdf document (scanned document).

Since it's a pdf of a scanned document, it won't be accessible to people with vision-related disabilities. In the interest of full accessibility, the full text of the press release is included below (minus contact info):


Ted Goodwin, President
Marietta, GA

Jerry Dincin, PhD, Vice President

News For Immediate Release

Washington State Passes I-1000!

November 5, 2008
Olympia, WA

Although the supporters of Initiative I-1000 are delighted that
Washington becomes the second state to pass a "Death with Dignity Act", there is much more work to be done.

Ted Goodwin, President of Final Exit Network, said, "We congratulate all those who worked so hard to achieve this important right for Washington's citizens, and we applaud the citizens of Washington State for making the right choice. "Final Exit Network and its members supported passage of this landmark initiative by donating to the advocacy effort spearheaded by Washington Death with Dignity and former Governor Booth Gardner. However, the job is not finished".

Although, like Oregon's "Death with Dignity Act," I-1000 gives doctors the authority to prescribe a lethal dose of medications to terminally ill individuals under strict controls, it condemns to continued suffering as many as 40% of those who desperately want to end their life because of intolerable suffering but cannot under the law because their illness is not diagnosed as "terminal".

"Unfortunately," said Goodwin, "many patients do not meet I-1000's
strict criteria. Individuals with neurological illnesses such as
Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's disease often lose the reason and will to live long before their disease qualifies as 'terminal'." Goodwin adds, "For these individuals, neither I-1000 nor the Oregon law go far enough. "That is why Final Exit Network pledges, until laws protect the right of every adult to a peaceful, dignified death, Final
Exit Network will be there to support those who need relief from their suffering today!"

"The Network's Exit Guide Program is available nationwide," Goodwin
said. "With the Network's compassionate guidance and support, physically and emotionally competent adults in all fifty states are free to exercise their last human right - the right to a peaceful, dignified death. "Final Exit Network is the only organization in the United States that will support individuals who are not "terminally ill" - 6 months or less to live - to hasten their deaths. No other organization in the US makes this commitment," said Goodwin.

Final Exit Network is a four-year-old volunteer-run nonprofit that is committed to serve many move other organizations turn away! More
information is available from (contact information omitted).


Please feel free to share this. And if anyone from the Final Exit Network is reading this:

If you're proud of what you've done and what you stand for, why do you have to hide documents like this and lie about what your real goals are?

Stephen Drake

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