Right-To-Die Group Shut Down

Oak Park man still alive after assisted suicide plans dashed

An ailing Oak Park man had planned to be dead by now.

Wanting to be free of a painful disorder that weakens his limbs and breathing, Kurt Perry, 26, decided last month it was time to end his life. The Chicago Tribune repoerts that he picked his place, his method and his death date: Feb. 26, 2009.

He had long planned his death with the help of Rosalie Guttman and Jerry Dincin, Chicago-area volunteers with Final Exit Network, a right-to-die organization.

But Perry's plan came to an abrupt halt just 24 hours before his chosen time of death when Final Exit got shutdown by law enforcement officers.

On Feb. 25, two Final Exit guides arrived at the Georgia home of a man they believed was suffering from cancer and planning to kill himself, the Tribune reported. Instead, the man was an undercover agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which had been monitoring the group since June, when Final Exit "guided" another member's suicide.

Two guides in Baltimore were charged as well and agents froze the group's assets, essentially cutting off its ability to function -- or to assist in any further suicides.

Perry has decided to devote the remainder of his life to defend Final Exit and his own right to choose death over suffering.

"My personal hope is that the people charged will be vindicated, set free, cleared of all charges, and the Final Exit Network can begin attending exits once again," Perry said. "I want to do everything I can to support the right-to-die movement.

"I'm going to wait," he said. 

Final Exit volunteers say that their work is "compassionate."  When a member decides to end his or her life, Final Exit aims to have two guides on site that day to advise and comfort the person, but not participate, said Dr. Lawrence Egbert, 81, a retired anesthesiologist and Final Exit's medical director.

The four guides arrested last month face charges related to the violation of assisted-suicide and racketeering laws, and tampering with evidence.

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