Derek Humphry is the Founder of the Hemlock Society USA (1980) and the President of the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO). Here we talk about his background, work, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?
Derek Humphry: Due to the six years WW2 lasted (I was 6 on the outbreak and 15 when it finished), my formal education was slender. I had to educate myself by reading widely and observation.
Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self-educated?
Humphry: Yes, I was obliged to be largely self-educated.
Strangely, some people say that it was advantageous for me not to
be cluttered with an academic higher education!
Jacobsen: Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization is a good resource on the subject. How did this resource come to fruition?
Humphry: By the visibility of my books. Mostly ‘Jean’s Way’ (1978) and ‘Final Exit (l991). Both became bestsellers and remain available via Kindle.
Jacobsen: What is your current role, and associated tasks and responsibilities, with the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization?
Humphry: President of the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO) supplying quality literature about choices in dying for the terminally ill. Spreading news and views about
euthanasia generally via websites, blogs and a Listserv. Answering queries daily from people with problems dealing with their own forthcoming death, or that of a loved one.
Jacobsen: What tend to be the main myths or misrepresentations about euthanasia? What truths dispel them?
Humphry: That’s a huge question. Fundamentally, my approach is to respect what opposite views on ‘dying and death’ that people have, but don’t reject my/our view to act differently.
Jacobsen: How does the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization provide a basis for becoming more informed on the subject of euthanasia? What are the most used resources of ERGO?
Humphry: Our publications appear in many languages and are read all over the world. www.finalexit.org/ergo-store
Jacobsen: What sectors of societies tend to be the most against euthanasia, dying with dignity, the right to die, and medical assistance in dying, and so on?
Humphry: The Roman Catholic Church is strongly against any form of assisted dying. Protestant churches are divided. Also against are Orthodox Jews but not Reform Jews. And, of course, Muslims are opposed.
The various Medical Associations (of doctors) have always been, as policy, against my views, but they’re coming round now that public opinion is swinging in our favor.
Jacobsen: What are the most important activist, legal and sociocultural, efforts ongoing at the moment for the advancement of the human rights in the likely most important decision someone will make with their life – its ending in time and in place?
Humphry: There are 50 right-to-die groups in the world campaigning to get lawful doctor-assisted dying democratically introduced in their countries. www.worldrtd.net
Jacobsen: What are some good resources, organizations, and people who speak on euthanasia?
Humphry: Relevant web sites:
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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