Date & Time: Oct 27 2011 - 6:30pm
Location: SLC Conference Center–352 Seventh Ave./16th Floor-(29/30th St.)
Speaker: JANIS LANDIS - BOARD MEMBER / FINAL EXIT NETWORK
Subject: THE HUMAN RIGHT TO A DEATH WITH DIGNITY
Is Death With Dignity the Human Right That Is Still Denied Us?
That statement--which is the guiding principle of a nationwide organization called “Final Exit Network”-- may seem logical and compassionate to you, but it has caused the officers and Board of Directors of Final Exit to be persecuted and even jailed in some states. Their crime? End of life counseling for the irreversibly ill person who has decided he or she has had enough.
What’s unusual about Final Exit Network is that its services are not limited to the “terminally ill.” That is because “terminally ill” is defined as death within six months. “But if a person has ALS, they probably are going to have at least two, or more, years of suffering,” says Janis Landis, a New York-based volunteer for Final Exit. “And nobody, under the law, will help them--except us.”
For this, the Final Exit organization’s volunteers and board members have been persecuted, condemned, badgered, arrested, jailed, their files confiscated and their homes searched.
For example, in Baltimore, Dr. Larry Egbert, an 81-year-old physician and part-time professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was arrested and handcuffed in his office while the Baltimore homicide squad searched his office. They confiscated his computer and files, and took him down to central booking. His wife had to put a lien on their house for $60,000 to bail him out. His crime? Compassion and guidance. Dr. Egbert, you see, is the unpaid medical director of Final Exit.
One such hard working volunteer is New Yorker Janis Landis, a retired Internal Revenue Service professional, who is Secretary of the Final Exit board of directors. Landis says she was drawn to Final Exit by the women’s liberation movement: “It raised the issue for me about who controls our bodies. I started to think, what is the interest of society in telling me that I need to suffer? Who gains from that?”
Religion Says Suffering Ennobles
Landis feels that Final Exit is “in the crosshairs” of government authorities because “we are the only ones actively doing something for people. Other right-to-die groups are pressing on changes in the laws. But people in unbearable pain can’t wait for laws to change. Final Exit volunteers go to the patient’s home and counsel them. We see our actions as confronting the nation on why people are being forced to die alone, in agony.”
Come to New York City Atheists’ monthly meeting on Thursday to hear the wonderful, articulate, compassionate Janis Landis, a tough but gentle lady whose irreligious views on death lend more weight to the notion that living life fully while you are alive is really what matters.
People You Can Count On
Give your support to those unpaid Final Exit volunteers who are easing one of life’s passages and turning it into something simple and memorable. Come and share with your Atheist community and your Atheist friends how, when the beauty of life fades, there are people you can count on.
Cost: We would appreciate a donation of $5 to help cover the cost of room rental.