ISSN 0742-535X May 1999
At the conference in Zurich in October 1998 two decisions were taken which involved radical developments for the WFRDS. There has been a feeling for some time that the World Federation needed to give greater assistance to its member societies and also to aim for an impact on the world at large.
The delegates in Zurich agreed that a Development Officer should be employed whose purpose would be to give assistance in dealing with any problems which member societies might have. These problems might be in fund-raising, membership or campaigning and would include establishing links between societies, particularly between those which are large and experienced and those which are not.
The Development Officer would also try to recruit existing Right to Die Societies which are not members of WFRDS and to establish such societies in countries where the re are none. This is, of course, a huge task for one person and it would be essential to s tart the project on a small scale to gain experience and feel our way. The Dutch society has generously offered to provide office space for a Development Officer and some supervision in the early stages.
The next step is to prepare a job description, to advertise for applicants, prepare a short-list and then interview the candidates. The over-riding need is to collect enough money to pay the basic expenses of salary and travel costs. Many societies have responded to the appeal made by the immediate Past President, Hugh Wynne, and there is now a total of US$32,500 pledged for the fund. Just over half of that has been remitted and the Treasurer, Olli Penttila, would be glad to receive the balance from those who have promised but not yet paid. In order to keep the project going a continuing commitment is necessary, so the Directors hope that member societies will respond readily when asked. If the project founders through lack of support it will not be possible for societies to ask in the future, "What is the World Federation doing for us?"
UNESCO The second decision was to explore the possibility of obtaining what is called consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO or a similar international organization. If this could be achieved the WFRDS would have direct access to bodies which influence the debate on political and social questions. If any of them could be persuaded to give an opinion in favour of the right to die with dignity it would be extremely influential. The Directors have explored this possibility and decided that UNESCO is the best forum for our activities. The procedure is, however, cumbersome and after a successful application would involve attendance at any relevant conferences orga nized by UNESCO and an ability to contribute to its work. The effort and expense of doing this would be considerable and probably beyond our resources at the mo ment. It is, therefore, probable that this idea will have to be postponed until the Development Officer has become established because the work involved and the contacts which have to be made need the attention of full-time staff. -- 22 April l999
The next meeting of the World Federation will be held in Boston, September 2- 5, 2000. It will be held in conjunction with the 11th national Hemlock Society Conference. Both organizations will be celebrating their 20th anniversaries.
The hotel will be on the Boston Park Plaza, a charming, old world hotel near the famous Boston Common, the Charles River, Copley Square, Beacon Hill, the State House, Fanueil Hall, restaurants and shops. It is five minutes from Logan Airport and a convenient subway ride to Harvard Square.
The weather at that time in Boston is perfect. Convenient trips can be made to Cape Cod, the rest of New England, and to Tangelwood where the Boston Symphony plays in the summer. Attendees are invited to stay after the meeting and volunteer in Maine, where the campaign for the Maine Death with Dignity Act will be fought. Details about registration will be sent out in a few months. Meanwhile , save the date.
Luis H Gallop, founder of the Hemlock Society of New Hampshire and tireless worker for euthanasia law reform, died on December 30, l998, at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was 72 years old. He had been seriously ill with the blood disorder, myelodysplasia, for three years, and endured dozens of hospital stays, mostly involving transfusions. Last month he also developed an infection of the heart. Five days before his death , in an extremely weakened state, he declared that he was ready to die and stopped eating so as to accelerate the inevitable end. "He expired peacefully," said his second wife, Maggie.
Lou Gallop was born in Cincinnati. Straight from college he joined the US army. Within months he was shipped to the front line of the Allied invasion of France, receiving wounds in action in l945. In New York he built a successful career as an advertising executive on Madison Avenue until, in the l980s, personal tragedy struck. In quick succession he lost both his wife and a daughter to cancer. He quit the family home in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and retired to Francestown, New Hampshire, and turned his talents and energies to the right-to-die movement. The epitome of a New England gentleman - cultivated, elegant, long grayhair -- he charmed people into taking an interest in the sensitive euthanasia cause. After forming that state's Hemlock Society, Gallop worked ceaselessly with several legislators, notably Rep. Robert Guest (Hanover) and Rep. Arthur Corte (Do ver), to try to get the New Hampshire legislature to pass a law permitting physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. A law was introduced three times - more times than in any of the other 49 states -- but on each occasion it met eventual defeat under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. Even at the thir d loss, Gallop remarked: "We are distressed but not broken." Rep. Guest, told of Gallop's death, commented: "He was a great soldier for t he cause."
Not content with working within his state, Gallop also turned his attention t o the world scene, becoming a director of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. He edited the international newsletter from l994-96. He was a founding director of the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization. As his medical problems worsened, Gallop retired to live in North Carolina. Up until a short time before his death he retained an interest in the cause to w hich he had given so much, both intellectually and physically, requesting no funeral or flowers but donations to the Hemlock Society. -- Derek Humphry (1 Jan 99)
I presented a paper on the establishment of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies and its international growth to the world congress in Bombay of the International Humanist Ethical Union on Jan 10-14, l999. The IHEU has consultative status at the UN, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe - areas which our new development officer will research and canvas for us, provided we get enough support to make the appointment.
First contact with IHEU was made by Hugh Wynne in l996, and then members of our board met with their executive director, Babu Gogineni, in Londo n in April 1997. Discussions about the mutual advantages of cooperation between our two organizations were pursued in l998 by our then general secretary, Malcolm Hurwitt.
Warm hospitality was given me by the President of the VES of India, Dr. Buji Collabawalla, and his wife Maryon, while Feroze Patch, the local society treasurer, loaned me his car and driver for a time, Dr.Collabawalla arranged an interview for me with the deputy edi tor of The Times of India. The article and a photograph of me appeared in The Times on the opening day of the conference, and someone clipped it out and pasted it on the conference notice board. Consequently, everyone knew me and I was inundated with conversations and interviews throughout. Delegates had come from Nepal, Tibet, Europe, the UK and the USA , with one representative each from Uganda, Costa Rica, and Argentina.
The IHEU then conference passed by 200 votes to ten this resolution offered by me on behalf of our World Federation: "That this 14th World Congress of the IHEU supports a change to the laws in every country allowing competent people who are hopelessly ill and suff ering to ask a willing doctor to assist them to die quickly and peacefully." ; During my talk to the plenary session, I pointed out that a number of euthanasia societies had in fact been started by local Humanist groups. I urged the congress to do this more widely.
After India, I traveled to the UK for more World Federation business, thence to Amsterdam to meet with the board of NVVE to express my appreciation for their generosity in providing an office and $US 5,000 towards funding the appointment of a development officer. Some societies have contributed generously to t his, but I am disappointed that every one of our member groups has not given at least a little.
If you are interested in subscribing to an Internet email list dealing exclusively and intelligently with right-to-die issues, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org saying merely `sub scribe' and include your full name. The list is managed and monitored by Derek Humphry. There are no charges. To be removed from the list, which is international and has more than 600 subscribers, send an email saying `unsubscribe.'
Recently I asked member Societies if they would like to share some of the events happening in their countries and societies. Thank-you to all those who responded. This article presents the information supplied. If you would like further information, please contact the appropriate society direct. If you do not have contact details I can supply these for you.
There is a Voluntary Euthanasia Bill under consideration by the South Australian Parliament. It is being studied by a Standing Parliamentary Committee, the Social Development Committee, and their report to Parliament is expected towards the end of this year. Political Activity SAVES is in regular contact with the Social Development Committee and others as part of our policy of monitoring the progress of the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill in order to ensure that misinformation and misrepresentation is appropriately countered.
SAVES has a mobile static display which we move through shopping malls, public libraries and the like throughout the year. Although no longer new (its origins date back to a larger static display of 16 panels designed in 1980), we have found the mobile version very popular. It is in constant demand and provides an opportunity to distribute our literature and remind the public of our existence. Internet Site http://www.on.net/clients/saves/ Australia,
Political Activity VESV organized and supported Philip Nitschke's political campaign in the Federal Election in which he won 9% of the primary vote as a single issue candidate. Other News Rodney Syme, VESV's President, requested the Victorian Coroner to conduct an inquest into the death of one of his patients whose death was assisted by pharmacological oblivion. An Enquiry continues. (Internet Site www.vicnet.net.au/~vesv).
Dying With Dignity (DWD) has not made any progress with respect to changing the Canadian criminal code. Our organization cannot lobby the government because we are a registered charity, but our members continue to write their local members of parliament urging them to address the issues of choice in dying.
DWD continues with its education of members of parliament by sending new MPs a copy of "A Gentle Death" to educate them about the importance of choice in dying at the end of life.
1. DWD held a tribute luncheon for our outgoing executive director (Marilynne Seguin) last March. We successfully raised several thousand dollars.
2. We are currently planning a forum in late spring. The two objectives for this forum are: a) to raise dollars for the society and b) to raise awareness about the Right to Die movement.
3. We are joining together with other Canadian societies to produce the first edition of a newsletter that has articles from all Right to Die societies in Canada. This is a joint partnership and the first edition is due in April 1999. DWD will continue with its regular quarterly newsletter to its members but will also participate in this national newsletter entitled "Free To Go".
4. DWD launched a fall fund raising appeal to current members of the society that have not donated within the past year. No final amounts are available as yet but results will be approximately $9,000-$10,000 raised.
We are currently drafting a letter to all of our health care professionals that are members of DWD asking them to sign the Declaration on Assisted Dying (originally started in Zurich). It is our hope that all DWD members that are nurses, doctors, social workers, etc. will sign the international declaration. We continue to be a resource for the media. In 1998, we completed over 100 media interviews on the subject of choice in dying. Media includes radio, television, and print.