Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypres let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
O prepare it!
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it.
Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corse, where my bones shall be thrown:
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, O, where
Sad true lover never find my grave
To weep there!
The question of rebirth, of life after death, has remained an enigma through
the ages. Human knowledge is hardly capable of answering all the problems that
life foreshadows, and as Gautama Buddha would say, “In this world of forms and
illusions created by our senses according to our illusions, a man either is or
is not, either lives or dies, but in the true and formless world this is not so,
for all is otherwise than according to our knowledge, and if you ask, does a man
live beyond death, I answer No, not in any sense comprehensible to the mind of
man which itself dies at death, and if you ask, does a man altogether die at
death, I answer No, for what dies is what belongs to this world of form and
The Lethal Danger of Being Fat Excess weight has a dramatic impact on one’s health. The BMI (body mass index) is a way to measure your disease risk based on your height to weight ratio. People with a BMI of 25 to 29 are considered overweight and those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.
The Transition Called Death: Each of us must
ultimately confront our mortality. For Hindus, this is not a fearsome prospect.
We know we have been born and died before, and karma and reincarnation make the
inevitable seem natural. One saint consoled, "Death is like falling asleep, and
birth is like waking from that sleep." Simple. Other sages speak of death
joyously as release from bondage, as return to our Source. The soul, the Vedas
declare, is immortal. Still, we are attached and must cope, find understanding
that will make death acceptable. Our Insight this month speaks traditionally of
this personal, exalted and potent experience crowning life.
Our faith guides our transition from this world, offering
solace to the suffering and those facing the foreboding certainty of death.
"Lead me from darkness to light, from death to
immortality." This famed Vedic prayer proclaims the human urge to survive, to
conquer death and to know the joys of illuminated consciousness. People often
pilgrimage to an isolated place in expectation of a vision, be it a jungle of
fauna and foliage or cement and glass. Every person is on a vision quest. But
for all souls, at the time of the great departure, mahaprasthana, a
vision comes as a tunnel of light at the end of which are beings of divine
Much of what we know and perceive about death and dying comes from our
religious background. In fact, our attitudes about death are deeply connected
with our views on religion. Whether or not we believe in a God or gods shapes
how we view the afterlife or lack thereof. Our fear of death can either be
compounded or eased by our religious outlook. If you believe in an angry God
that punishes us for all trespasses, then death can be frightening. Believing
that we all go to a better place after death, regardless of behavior, can cause
apathy towards death.
There seems to be a sharp rift between Eastern and Western cultural views on
Death. Mainly in the beliefs in and about "salvation", reincarnation, and the
afterlife. Beyond this, big differences in attitude can exist within sects or
branches of the same religious tree - causing more confusion.
Putting an end to our fears, classical Hindu metaphysics holds
the answers to the universal questions about the "end of our life"
Death is the most fateful experience of each of our lives. But
no Hindu really fears death, nor does he look forward to it. Death for the Hindu
is merely transition, simultaneously an end and a new beginning. Over two
thousand years ago Saint Tiruvalluvar wrote that "Death is like falling asleep,
and birth is like awakening from that sleep." In one of the ancient languages of
our religion, the physical body had a name which literally meant "that which is
always dropping off." When key truths are understood and accepted about the
nature of the soul and the cycles of birth, life, dying, death, afterlife and
rebirth, all sense of foreboding and fear of death perish. Here we explore those
'Let life unfold its wonders through women, let death find its peace
through men' —
this seems to be the basis behind rituals related to birth
and death in India
Earth; do not crush him.
Be easy for him to enter and to burrow in.
Earth, wrap him up as a mother
Wraps a son in the edge of her skirt.
Rig Vedic Burial Hymn (X.18)
At the time of
childbirth, the deepest values, cherished beliefs and body-spirit
knowledge of a community is reflected in the way it handles the slippery
wet newborn and the exhausted mother.
The 'fear of death' is a composite
(1) the abstract, objective, external, empirical
fact of biological death;
(2) our personal, subjective, emotional fear of
—which arises from our awareness of our own
(3) our ownmost ontological anxiety
—our Existential Predicament disguised as the fear
This least understood and most repressed
existential dimension of death will be the central focus of this phenomenological
Whenever "death" is mentioned, we think
first of biological death, but this tendency to focus exclusively on the
objective, terminal fact of dying may well be a trick of thought designed to
protect us from noticing our fear of ceasing-to-be or our
even deeper ontological anxiety. We have other protective techniques as well: religious illusions, philosophical
desensitization, and diversionary small-talk. Most of these distracting ploys amount to seeing
death exclusively as an objective event, which befalls all
living organisms eventually.
Somehow we must reverse this tendency to obscure, evade, and deny the deeper dimensions
Near-death experience links The best on
number of near-death accounts involve the experiencer seeing a "web" of
light some form of connection of light that exists above the whole earth and
called various things such as: a grid, a net, a web, a cosmic axis, a
matrix. Here are some experiences that describe it: (01),
From this information, I theorize that the internet is the physical
representation of this invisible spiritual "web" that exists around the
globe. The internet represents "virtual
reality," a reality that exists based in another dimension. Near-death
accounts are very similar to virtual reality because all things are possible
in these realms.
"Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a
conventional thing to happen to him." John Barrymore (Actor)
"Friends applaud, the comedy is over." Ludwig van Beethoven
"I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis." Humphrey Bogart(Actor)
"Et tu, Brute?"
("You too, Brutus?") Julius Gaius Caesar
"The earth is suffocating...
Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won't be buried alive." Frederic Chopin (Composer) "I have tried so hard to do right." Steven Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th US President)
"It was a great game."
(After his last round of golf) Harold Lillis "Bing" Crosby
"I am not the least afraid to die." Charles Darwin
"That guy's got to stop... He'll see us."
(Before being killed in a car
accident.) James Dean
"My God. What's happened?" Diana, Princess of Wales
"... the fog is rising" Emily Dickinson
"It's very beautiful over there."
(Upon gazing out of his bedroom window.)
"I've always loved my wife, my children, and my grandchildren, and I've always
loved my country. I want to go. God, take me"
Dwight D. Eisenhower
"All my possessions for a moment of time." Queen Elizabeth I of England
"God damn the whole friggin' world and everyone in it but you, Carlotta." W.C. Fields
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale (American Revolutionary)
"This is a mortal wound, doctor." Alexander Hamilton (US Founding Father)
"Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub." Conrad N. Hilton (Founder of the Hilton Hotel chain.)
"This is funny." John Henry (Doc) Holliday
"Hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames!" Saint Joan of Arc
I am roasted on one side." Saint Lawrence (Roman Martyr)
"Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!"
housekeeper, when asked if he wanted his last words recorded.) Karl Marx
"Drink to me!" Pablo Picasso
"Lord help my poor soul." Edgar Allan Poe
"I have a terrific headache." Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd US President)
"I'm going over the valley." Babe Ruth
"Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius. Will you remember to pay the debt?" Socrates
"Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six." Count Leo Tolstoy (Russian Writer)
"'Tis well." General George Washington (First US President)
"Go away. I'm all right." Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (Famous Writer)
"Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects
of the same state. There is as little reason to deplore the one as there is to
be pleased over the other." ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi
"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on
earth -- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then
begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had."
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our
concern must be to live while we're alive -- to release our inner selves from
the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform
to external definitions of who and what we are."
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its
cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue
to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow." ~ Elisabeth
"For those who seek to understand it, death is a highly creative force. The
highest spiritual values of life can originate from the thought and study of
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"I've told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to
celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation."
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"People living deeply have no fear of death."
~ Anais Nin
"One often calms one's grief by recounting it."
~ Pierre Corneille
"Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."
~ Norman Cousins
"A useless life is an early death."
~ Johann W. von Goethe
"The only cure for grief is action."
~ George Henry Lewes
"Mourning is not forgetting... It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be
untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the
~ Margery Allingham
"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form."
~ The Rumi
"To not think of dying, is to not think of living."
~ Jann Arden
"Eternity is not something that begins after you're dead. It is going on all the
time. We are in it now."
~ Charlotte Perkins Gilman
"I have absolutely no fear of death. From my near-death research and my personal
experiences, death is, in my judgment, simply a transition into another kind of
~ Raymond Moody
"Every mortal loss is an immortal gain."
~ William Blake
"The happiness of the drop is to die in the river."
"The grave is but a covered bridge Leading from light to light, through a
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Oh, write of me, not 'Died in bitter pains,' But 'Emigrated to another star!' "
~ Helen Hunt Jackson
"For any culture which is primarily concerned with meaning, the study of death
-- the only certainty that life holds for us -- must be central, for an
understanding of death is the key to liberation in life."
~ Stanislav Grof
"The safest course is to do nothing against one's conscience.
With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death."
"For a man who has done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep."
~ George Santayana
"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live you life in a manner
so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice."
~ Native American Proverb
"Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names."
~ The Bible
"No one's death comes to pass without making some impression, and those close to
the deceased inherit part of the liberated soul and become richer in their
~ Hermann Broch
"Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature." ~Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
"The act of dying is one of the acts of life." ~ Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
"For death begins with life's first breath And life begins at touch of death."
~ John Oxenham
"Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the
ocean." ~ David Searls
"Life is a great sunrise.
I do not see why death should not be an even greater one." ~ Vladimir
"We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled
dream; it may be so the moment after death."
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
Evidence has been building for several decades that
depression can increase the elderly’s risk of dying. Now this link has been
tightened a notch further by a study reported in the October Archives of
General Psychiatry by a team of Dutch scientists.
Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with Vrije
University in Amsterdam, and her coworkers examined the incidence of either
major depression or minor depression among some 3,000 men and women ages 55 to
85 years old living in various areas throughout the Netherlands. Death
certificates for all subjects who died between the start of the study in 1993
and the end of the study in 1997 were likewise obtained. After adjusting for
possibly confounding socioeconomic factors such as age, sex, education, smoking,
alcohol consumption, body mass index, physical activity, and chronic disease,
the researchers found that major depression was associated with a 1.83-fold
higher death risk in both men and women, and minor depression with a 1.80-fold
higher death risk in men.
"It is an interesting finding," said Mustafa M. Husain, M.D.,
a psychiatrist with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in
Dallas and chair of the APA Committee on Access and Effectiveness of Psychiatric
Services for the Elderly. Internists and cardiologists who deal with the elderly
should be made aware of such data, he believes.
Certainly this study has implications for physicians who care
for the elderly, agrees Scott Spier, M.D., chief of the division of psychiatry
at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore and a physician with a special interest in
geriatric psychiatry. They should do their best to see that depressed older
people, especially those in nursing homes, get the antidepressant medications
they need. Being sad because you are stuck in a nursing home, he stresses, is
not the same as being depressed.
George Dyck, M.D., a psychiatrist with the University of
Kansas in Wichita and on the APA Committee on Long-Term Care and Treatment for
the Elderly, views the Dutch investigation from still another perspective.
Although seniors are more likely to talk about their depressions than they used
to, he points out, older men are still more reluctant to do so than older women
are. Thus the reason the Dutch investigators found that minor depression
increased mortality risk among older men but not among older women, he
speculates, may have been due to a number of older men playing down their
depressions and thus being categorized as "minor" depressives when they actually
belonged to the "major depression" category.
Still unclear, however, is why seniors are more likely to die
when they are depressed than when they are not. The increased risk of death
among depressives in the Dutch study could not be attributed to suicide. In
fact, about a half of those with major depression succumbed to cardiovascular
disease and a fair number of those with minor depression to respiratory disease.
But might the causes lie still deeper in the human mind and body—might
depression alter certain endocrinologic and immune pathways that predispose to
Mark Goulston, M.D., a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and a
senior psychiatrist at <www.Lifescape.com>, the primary behavioral and mental
health resource to <www.Dr.Koop.com>, thinks so.
"Certainly an attitude can affect one’s immune system," he
asserts. Indeed, there is evidence that depression can alter the endocrine and
immunological states of not just seniors, but of younger persons as well."
But can depression truly trigger endocrinological and immune
changes that are so dramatic that they can then lead to illness and death? This
hypothesis has not yet been tested on a large scale among community-dwelling
seniors. "This is actually the area I am interested in for my future research,"
Penninx told Psychiatric News.
· 1906 - First euthanasia bill drafted in Ohio. It does not succeed.
· 1935 - World's first euthanasia society is founded in London, England.
· 1938 - The Euthanasia Society of America is founded by the Rev. Charles
Potter in New York.
· 1954 - Joseph Fletcher publishes Morals and Medicine, predicting the
coming controversy over the right to die.
· 1957 - Pope Pius XII issues Catholic doctrine distinguishing ordinary
from extraordinary means for sustaining life.
· 1958 - Oxford law professor Glanville Williams publishes The Sanctity
of Life and the Criminal Law, proposing that voluntary euthanasia be allowed for
competent, terminally ill patients.
· 1958 - Lael Wertenbaker publishes Death of a Man describing how she
helped her husband commit suicide. It is the first book of its genre.
· 1967 - The first living will is written by attorney Louis Kutner and
his arguments for it appear in the Indiana Law Journal.
· 1967 - A right-to-die bill is introduced by Dr. Walter W. Sackett in
Florida's legislature. It arouses extensive debate but is unsuccessful.
· l968 - Doctors at Harvard Medical School propose redefining death to
include brain death as well as heart-lung death. Gradually this definition is
· 1969 - Voluntary euthanasia bill introduced in the Idaho legislation.
· 1969 - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross publishes On Death and Dying, opening
discussion of the once-taboo subject of death.
· 1970 - The Euthanasia Society (US) finishes distributing 60,000 living
· 1973 - American Hospital Association creates Patient Bill of Rights,
which includes informed consent and the right to refuse treatment.
· 1973 - Dr. Gertruida Postma, who gave her dying mother a lethal
injection, receives light sentence in the Netherlands. The furore launches the
euthanasia movement in that country (NVVE).
· 1974 - The Euthanasia Society in New York renamed the Society for the
Right to Die. The first hospice American hospice opens in New Haven, Conn.
· 1975 - Deeply religious Van Dusens commit suicide. Henry P. Van Dusen,
77, and his wife, Elizabeth, 80, leaders of the Christian ecumenical movement,
choose to die rather than suffer from disabling conditions. Their note reads,
"We still feel this is the best way and the right way to go."
· 1975 - Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (NVVE) launches its Members'
Aid Service to give advice to the dying. Receives 25 requests for aid in the
· 1976 - The New Jersey Supreme Court allows Karen Ann Quinlan's parents
to disconnect the respirator that keeps her alive, saying it is affirming the
choice Karen herself would have made. Quinlan case becomes a legal landmark. But
she lives on for another eight years.
· 1976 - California Natural Death Act is passed. The nation's first aid
in dying statute gives legal standing to living wills and protects physicians
from being sued for failing to treat incurable illnesses.
· 1976 - Ten more U.S. states pass natural death laws.
· 1976 - First international meeting of right-to-die groups. Six are
· 1978 - Doris Portwood publishes landmark book Commonsense Suicide: The
Final Right. It argues that old people in poor health might justifiably kill
· 1978 - Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a play about a young artist who
becomes quadriplegic, is staged in London and on Broadway, raising disturbing
questions about the right to die. A film version appears in 1982. Jean's Way is
published in England by Derek Humphry, describing how he helped his terminally
ill wife to die.
· 1979 - Artist Jo Roman, dying of cancer, commits suicide at a
much-publicized gathering of friends that is later broadcast on public
television and reported by the New York Times.
· 1979 - Two right-to-die organizations split. The Society for the Right
to Die separates from Concern for Dying, a companion group that grew out of the
Society's Euthanasia Education Council.
· 1980 - Advice column Dear Abby publishes a letter from a reader
agonizing over a dying loved one, generating 30,000 advance care directive
requests at the Society for the Right to Die.
· 1980 - Pope John Paul II issues Declaration in Euthanasia opposing
mercy killing but permits the greater use of painkillers to ease pain and the
right to refuse extraordinary means for sustaining life.
· 1980 -Hemlock Society is founded in Santa Monica, California, by Derek
Humphry. It advocates legal change and distributes how to die information. This
launches the campaign for assisted dying in America. Hemlock's national
membership will grow to 50,000 within a decade. Right to die societies also
formed the same year in Germany and Canada.
· 1980 - World Federation of Right to Die Societies is formed in Oxford,
England. It comprises 27 groups from 18 nations.
· 1981 -Hemlock publishes how-to suicide guide, Let Me Die Before I Wake,
the first such book on open sale
· 1983 - Famous author (Darkness at Noon etc) Arthur Koestler, terminally
ill, commits suicide a year after publishing his reasons. His wife Cynthia, not
dying, choses to commit suicide with him.
· 1983 - Elizabeth Bouvia, a quadriplegic suffering from cerebral palsy,
sues a California hospital to let her die of self-starvation while receiving
comfort care. She loses, and files an appeal.
· 1984 - Advance care directives become recognized in 22 states and the
District of Columbia.
· 1984 - The Netherlands Supreme Court approves voluntary euthanasia
under certain conditions.
· 1985 - Karen Ann Quinlan dies.
· 1985 - Betty Rollin publishes Last Wish, her account of helping her
mother to die after a long losing battle with breast cancer. The book becomes a
· 1986 - Roswell Gilbert, 76, sentenced in Florida to 25 years without
parole for shooting his terminally ill wife. Granted clemency five years later.
· 1986 - Elizabeth Bouvia is granted the right to refuse force feeding by
an appeals court. But she declines to take advantage of the permission and is
still alive in l998.
· 1986 - Americans Against Human Suffering is founded in California,
launching a campaign for what will become the 1992 California Death with Dignity
· 1987 - The California State Bar Conference passes Resolution #3-4-87 to
become the first public body to approve of physician aid in dying.
· 1988 - Journal of the American Medical Association prints It's Over,
Debbie, an unsigned article describing a resident doctor giving a lethal
injection to a woman dying of ovarian cancer. The public prosecutor makes an
intense, unsuccessful effort to identify the physician in the article.
· 1988 - Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations passes a
national resolution favoring aid in dying for the terminally ill, becoming the
first religious body to affirm a right to die.
· 1990 - Washington Initiative (119) is filed, the first state voter
referendum on the issue of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
· 1990 - American Medical Association adopts the formal position that
with informed consent, a physician can withhold or withdraw treatment from a
patient who is close to death, and may also discontinue life support of a
patient in a permanent coma.
· 1990 - Dr. Jack Kevorkian assists in the death of Janet Adkins, a
middle-aged woman with Alzheimer's disease. Kevorkian subsequently flounts the
Michigan legislature's attempts to stop him from assisting in additional
· 1990 - Supreme Court decides the Cruzan case, its first aid in dying
ruling. The decision recognizes that competent adults have a constitutionally
protected liberty interest that includes a right to refuse medical treatment;
the court also allows a state to impose procedural safeguards to protect its
· 1990 - Hemlock of Oregon introduces the Death With Dignity Act into the
Oregon legislature, but it fails to get out of committee.
· 1990 - Congress passes the Patient Self-Determination Act, requiring
hospitals that receive federal funds to tell patients that they have a right to
demand or refuse treatment. It takes effect the next year.
· 1991 - Dr. Timothy Quill writes about "Diane" in the New England
Journal of Medicine, describing his provision of lethal drugs to a leukemia
patient who chose to die at home by her own hand rather than undergo therapy
that offered a 25 percent chance of survival. ·
· 1991 - Nationwide Gallup poll finds that 75 percent of Americans
approve of living wills.
· 1991 - Derek Humphry publishes Final Exit, a how-to book on
self-deliverance. Within 18 months the book sells 540,000 copies and tops USA
bestseller lists. It is translated into twelve other languages. Total sales
exceed one million.
· 1991 - Choice in Dying is formed by the merger of two aid in dying
organizations, Concern for Dying and Society for the Right to Die. The new
organization becomes known for defending patients' rights and promoting living
wills, and will grow in five years to 50,000 members.
· 1991 - Washington State voters reject Ballot Initiative 119, which
would have legalized physician-aided suicide and aid in dying. The vote is 54-46
· 1992 - Americans for Death with Dignity, formerly Americans Against
Human Suffering, places the California Death with Dignity Act on the state
ballot as Proposition 161.
· 1992 - Health care becomes a major political issue as presidential
candidates debate questions of access, rising costs, and the possible need for
some form of rationing.
· 1992 - California voters defeat Proposition 161, which would have
allowed physicians to hasten death by actively administering or prescribing
medications for self administration by suffering, terminally ill patients. The
vote is 54-46 percent.
· 1993 - Advance directive laws are achieved in 48 states, with passage
imminent in the remaining two.
· 1993 - Compassion in Dying is founded in Washington state to counsel
the terminally ill and provide information about how to die without suffering
and "with personal assistance, if necessary, to intentionally hasten death." The
group sponsors suits challenging state laws against assisted suicide.
· 1993 - President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly support
advance directives and sign living wills, acting after the death of Hugh Rodham,
· 1993 - Oregon Right to Die, a political action committee, is founded to
write and subsequently to pass the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
· 1994 - The Death with Dignity Education Center is founded in California
as a national nonprofit organization that works to promote a comprehensive,
humane, responsive system of care for terminally ill patients.
· 1994 - More presidential living wills are revealed. After the deaths of
former President Richard Nixon and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis,
it is reported that both had signed advance directives.
· 1994 - The California Bar approves physician-assisted suicide. With an
85 percent majority and no active opposition, the Conference of Delegates says
physicians should be allowed to prescribe medication to terminally ill,
competent adults self-administration in order to hasten death.
· 1994 - All states and the District of Columbia now recognize some type
of advance directive procedure.
· 1994 - Washington State's anti-suicide law is overturned. In Compassion
v. Washington, a district court finds that a law outlawing assisted suicide
violates the 14th Amendment. Judge Rothstein writes, "The court does not believe
that a distinction can be drawn between refusing life-sustaining medical
treatment and physician-assisted suicide by an uncoerced, mentally competent,
terminally ill adult."
· 1994 - In New York State, the lawsuit Quill et al v. Koppell is filed
to challenge the New York law prohibiting assisted suicide. Quill loses, and
files an appeal.
· 1994 - Oregon voters approve Measure 16, a Death With Dignity Act
ballot initiative that would permit terminally ill patients, under proper
safeguards, to obtain a physician's prescription to end life in a humane and
dignified manner. The vote is 51-49 percent.
· 1994 - U.S. District Court Judge Hogan issues a temporary restraining
order against Oregon's Measure 16, following that with an injunction barring the
state from putting the law into effect.
· 1995 - Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center is
founded. Its purpose is to defend Ballot Measure 16 legalizing
· 1995 - Washington State's Compassion ruling is overturned by the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals, reinstating the anti suicide law.
· 1995 - U.S. District Judge Hogan rules that Oregon Measure 16, the
Death with Dignity Act, is unconstitutional on grounds it violates the Equal
Protection clause of the Constitution. His ruling is immediately appealed.
· 1995 - Surveys find that doctors disregard most advance directives.
Journal of the American Medical Association reports that physicians were unaware
of the directives of three-quarters of all elderly patients admitted to a New
York hospital; the California Medical Review reports that three-quarters of all
advance directives were missing from Medicare records in that state.
· 1995 - Oral arguments in the appeal of Quill v. Vacco contest the
legality of New York's anti-suicide law before the Second Circuit Court of
· 1995 - Compassion case is reconsidered in Washington state by a Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals panel of eleven judges, the largest panel ever to hear
a physician-assisted suicide case.
· 1996 - The Northern Territory of Australia passes voluntary euthanasia
law. Nine months later the Federal Parliament quashes it.
· 1996 - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the Compassion
finding in Washington state, holding that "a liberty interest exists in the
choice of how and when one dies, and that the provision of the Washington
statute banning assisted suicide, as applied to competent, terminally ill adults
who wish to hasten their deaths by obtaining medication prescribed by their
doctors, violates the Due Process Clause." The ruling affects laws of nine
western states. It is stayed pending appeal.
· 1996 - A Michigan jury acquits Dr. Kevorkian of violating a state law
banning assisted suicides.
· 1996 - The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the Quill finding,
ruling that "The New York statutes criminalizing assisted suicide violate the
Equal Protection Clause because, to the extent that they prohibit a physician
from prescribing medications to be self-administered by a mentally competent,
terminally ill person in the final stages of his terminal illness, they are not
rationally related to any legitimate state interest." The ruling affects laws in
New York, Vermont and Connecticut. (On 17 April the court stays enforcement of
its ruling for 30 days pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.)
· 1996 - The U.S. Supreme Court announces that it will review both cases
sponsored by Compassion in Dying, known now as Washington v. Glucksberg and
Quill v. Vacco.
· 1997 - Oral arguments set for the New York and Washington cases on
physician assisted dying. The cases were heard in tandem on 8 January but not
combined. A ruling is expected in June.
· 1997 - ACLU attorney Robert Rivas files an amended complaint
challenging the 128 year-old Florida law banning assisted suicide. Charles E.
Hall, who has AIDS asks court permission for a doctor to assist his suicide. The
· 1997 - On 13 May the Oregon House of Representatives votes 32-26 to
return Measure 16 to the voters in November for repeal (H.B. 2954). On 10 June
the Senate votes 20-10 to pass H.B. 2954 and return Measure 16 to the voters for
repeal. No such attempt to overturn the will of the voters has been tried in
Oregon since 1908.
· 1997 - On 26 June the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decisions of the
Ninth and Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington v. Glucksberg and Quill
v. Vacco, upholding as constitutional state statutes which bar assisted suicide.
However, the court also validated the concept of "double effect," openly
acknowledging that death hastened by increased palliative measures does not
constitute prohibited conduct so long as the intent is the relief of pain and
suffering. The majority opinion ended with the pronouncement that "Throughout
the nation, Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the
morality, legality and practicality of physician-assisted suicide. Our holding
permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society."
· 1997 - Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (NVVE) reports its membership
now more than 90,000, of whom 900 made requests for help in dying to its
Members' Aid Service.
· 1997 - Britain's Parliament rejects by 234 votes to 89 the seventh
attempt in 60 years to change the law on assisted suicide despite polls showing
82 percent of British people want reform.
· 1997 - On 4 November the people of Oregon vote by a margin of 60-40
percent against Measure 51, which would have repealed the Oregon Death with
Dignity Act, l994. The law officially takes effect (ORS 127.800-897) on 27
October l997 when court challenges disposed of.
· 1998 - Dr. Kevorkian assists the suicide of his 92nd patient in eight
years. His home state, Michigan, passes new law making such actions a crime. It
took effect September, 1 1998, but Kevorkian carries on helping people to die --
120 by November.
· 1998 - Oregon Health Services Commission decides that payment for
physician-assisted suicide can come from state funds under the Oregon Health
Plan so that the poor will not be discriminated against.
· 1998 - 16 people die by making use of the Oregon Death With Dignity
Act, receiving physician-assisted suicide in its first full year of
· 1998 - Measure B on the Michigan ballot to legalize physician-assisted
suicide defeated by 70 - 30%.
· 1999 - Dr. Kevorkian sentenced to 10-25 years imprisonment for the 2nd
degree murder of Thomas Youk after showing video of death by injection on
· 1999 - 26 people die by physician-assisted suicide in the second full
year of the Oregon PAS law.
· 2000 - World Euthanasia Conference, Boston
· 2000 - Citizens' Ballot Initiative in Maine to approve the lawfulness
of Physician- Assisted Suicide was narrowly defeated 51-49 percent.
· 2001 - Kevorkian's appeal decision reached after 2 years 7 months.
Judges reject it.
· 2001 - MS victim Diane Pretty asks UK court to allow her husband to
help her commit suicide. The London High Court, the House of Lords, and the
Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, all say no. She dies in hospice a few
· 2002 - Dutch law allowing voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted
suicide takes effect on 1 February. For 20 years previously it had been
permitted under guidelines.
· 2002 - Belgium passes similar law to the Dutch, allowing both voluntary
euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
· 2003 - US Attorney-General Ashcroft asks the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeal to reverse the finding of a lower court judge that the Oregon Death With
Dignity Act l994 does not contravene federal powers. 129 dying people have used
this law over the last five years to obtain legal physician-assisted suicide.
The losers of this appeal will almost certainly ask the US Supreme Court to