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The #MyDeathMyChoice Project
A Secular Humanist Perspective
This page contains the opening statement of the End-of-Life (EOL) Discussion Group associated with Humanists of Sarasota Bay (Florida). It supplements a short, free ebook The Reason Revolution, available here. Please read it as you consider these ideas.
Similar interest groups elsewhere are invited to adapt this statement without restriction.
This material will be included in a forthcoming free ebook tentatively titled My Death, My Choice: A Secular View of Voluntary Euthanasia.
Each of us is going to die. Few of us have a clear idea of when, where, and under what circumstances that inevitable event will occur.
At our ages, all of us have experienced the deaths of parents, other family members, and dear friends — some up close and personal. Most of those deaths have occurred in ways that we ourselves would surely not want to suffer. We doubtless hope to avoid the pain, distress, helplessness, loneliness, and indignity we have observed in the dying of family and friends we loved and lost.
American and European societies are evolving toward more humane ways of dying. Several states (most recently California) permit physician-assisted dying, and Florida will hopefully be among them in due time.
However, even legalized physician-assisted death requires a terminal diagnosis and other criteria that abridge the individual's rightful authority to decide when and how to die. Anyway, it is likely that some of us in this room will die before Florida approves physician-assisted dying, and traveling elsewhere may not be a practical option when we decide our time has come.
We secularists and atheists regard ourselves as the sole sovereigns possessing the natural right to decide when and how we shall die. Our lives are not owned by a church, by the government, nor by medical professionals on whom we rely for care. It is we, not gods or their surrogates, who should properly decide when our lives are to end. Unfortunately, most of us lack the information, clarity of intention, and practical means to implement that decision.
What to do?
The purpose of the EOL Group is to provide a safe, confidential, nonjudgmental, respectful venue to discuss and exchange ideas about practical issues regarding how to end one's life in a quick, painless, and certain manner, regardless of legal or religious considerations.
We may discuss related matters such as creeping dementia, non-terminal illness, presence of loved ones at the time of our death, disapproval of our choice by family members, prevention of legal liability of those we leave behind, how to acquire effective life-ending drugs, and other considerations. That is, rather than wait for approval of right-to-die legislation, we will discuss how to play the hand we are dealt, not the hand we would like to have.
The organizers and facilitators of the EOL Group are not experts on methods of ending one's life. So, this is not an instructional class where participants are provided authoritative information about how to achieve a quick, painless, and certain death. Members may research particular issues and share that information at a later meeting.
Information about specific non-violent methods of self-administered voluntary euthanasia may be found in Wikipedia articles titled Final Exit, Compassion & Choices, Peaceful Pill Handbook, Pentobarbital, Euthanasia device, Philip Nitschke, and Suicide methods. Additional articles on related topics are linked from the bottom of each of these pages.
We look forward to hosting a supportive forum for helping participants gain more control over their individual dying process, well in advance of the need for it.