Faye Girsh is the Founder and the Past President of the Hemlock Society of San Diego. She was the President of the National Hemlock Society (Defunct) and the World Federation of RTD Societies (Extant). Currently, she is on the Advisory Board of the Final Exit Network and the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization.
Here we talk about rational suicide.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the work of rational suicide, dying with dignity, euthanasia, and the like?
Faye Girsh: The Right to Die movement attempts to relieve suffering and provide peace of mind to those (suffering from) ENDURING severe, chronic or terminal illnesses (or conditions) by providing legal means for a peaceful death when no other solutions are available or acceptable.
Suicide is a legal option but, to achieve a peaceful and dignified death, assistance is often necessary. ASSISTING A SUICIDE IS NOT LEGAL EXCEPT IN THOSE STATES AND COUNTRIES WITH AN AID IN DYING LAW.
We believe people should be able to choose a non-violent, quick and certain death consistent with their values and beliefs.
Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, how are these important for the general advancement of a humanistic ethic?
Girsh: Alleviating suffering, promoting choice and control of one’s life are all achieved by permitting a gentle death of one’s choosing.
Jacobsen: What makes a particular effort to advance rational suicide more effective than others?
Girsh: A lot has to do with the ethos of the country or community. Surveys tell us that opposition to a humane death is correlated with the frequency of church attendance. Religious opposition to control over one’s own life and death stems from a hierarchical system in which humans are at the bottom.
One’s fate is predetermined or determined by a higher authority. Independent thinking is punished by adverse results in an afterlife. In the US those states where church attendance is low have been the ones who MORE READILY HAVE permittED aid in dying, eg., Oregon, Washington, and California — and now there are more.
Many religious people now see that the alleviation of unnecessary suffering is consistent with their beliefs and support aid in dying.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Faye.
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists,American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.