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The “right to die” has become one of the most polarizing social issues of our time ever since Derek Humphry founded the Hemlock Society more than thirty years ago. If anything, the issue has become even more contentious. Here are some of the questions we will discuss at our up-coming meeting:

What does it mean to have the right to die? Who has this right? 
Why has this question become so important in recent years? 
Who are the supporters of the “right to die” movement? What are their arguments? 
Who are the opponents? What are their objections? 
A brief history of the movement to legalize the “right to die”. 
What do we mean by “assisted suicide”?. What are the risks? How does it differ from euthanasia?

Claudia O’Callaghan, M.A. will moderate the discussion Claudia is a geriatric care manager and long-term-care consultant in San Francisco.

After the discussion we will go to a nearby coffee shop or restaurant for further discussion and get to know one another better.

Sponsored by The Bay Area Humanists


“A Life or Death Situation” – The New York Times Magazine, July 17, 2013

(Maragret Pabst Battin, a professor of philosophy and bio-ethics at the University of Utah faces a moral dilemma when her husband becomes a quadriplegic as the result of a bicycle accident in 2008)

“The Suicide Tourist”, March, 2010, A Frontline presentation of PBS,

2012 award-winning French film, AMOUR, “a film of heartbreaking beauty” (A husband finds a “final solution” to what seems like a hopeless situation). Available on Netflix

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  • Laura M.

    Very informative and helpful discussion. Here's a link to David Webb's talk, which I referred to -

    September 9, 2013

  • Laura M.

    Great great discussion! Lots of good points raised. No concensus even attempted but just hearing so many different perspectives was a very rich experience.

    September 8, 2013


    Bummer about the meeting conflict, I will probably come to this one as it's something I think about frequently, but am interested in both.

    September 4, 2013

  • Marty

    Hi David, Thanks for the suggestion, and sorry you can't make it. I saw the scheduling conflict and wondered about that myself, but so it goes. I plan to be at BNG next week, so hopefully we can talk then. Marty

    September 3, 2013

  • Marty

    Hi Everyone, It looks like a great discussion, and thanks to Claudia for moderating. I'm researching and writing on this issue, which will only become more urgent as more baby boomers reach old age. The only comment I'll make in advance is that the right to die and physician assisted suicide are not the same thing. I assert that the elderly or severely disabled should have a legal right to purchase and consume a reliable lethal dose, e.g., 50 seconol or pentobarbital, before they ever need the assistance of a physician in ending their lives, subject only to reasonable procedural constraints that protect innocent third parties, e.g., a mandatory session with an MD and a psychiatrist or psychologist. I look forward to seeing you all on 9/7. Marty

    August 6, 2013

    • David D.

      Hey Marty, be sure to read the September/October 2013 issue of The Humanist. Plenty of grist for your mill. I regret that I will not make this meeting due to someone's scheduling conflict, but maybe we can talk at the next Beer not God gathering.

      September 2, 2013

  • David D.

    Two meetings scheduled at the same time. Well, darn! I can't be in two places at once. Sorry about that.

    1 · September 2, 2013

  • David D.

    I intend to be there.

    August 18, 2013

  • Tom

    Super interesting topic!

    August 13, 2013

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