Skip to content

Interview with Derek Humphry – President, Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/02/06

Derek Humphry is the Founder of the Hemlock Society USA (1980) and the President of the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO). Here we talk about his background, work, and views.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?

Derek Humphry:
Due to the six years WW2 lasted (I was 6 on the outbreak and 15 when it finished), my formal education was slender. I had to educate myself by reading widely and observation.

Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you?  How have you informally self-educated?

Humphry:  Yes, I was obliged to be largely self-educated.
Strangely, some people say that it was advantageous for me not to
be cluttered with an academic higher education!

Jacobsen: Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization is a good resource on the subject. How did this resource come to fruition?

Humphry: By the visibility of my books. Mostly ‘Jean’s Way’ (1978) and ‘Final Exit (l991).  Both became bestsellers and remain available via Kindle.

Jacobsen: What is your current role, and associated tasks and responsibilities, with the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization?

Humphry: President of the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO) supplying quality literature about choices in dying for the terminally ill. Spreading news and views about
euthanasia generally via websites, blogs and a Listserv. Answering queries daily from people with problems dealing with their own forthcoming death, or that of a loved one.

Jacobsen: What tend to be the main myths or misrepresentations about euthanasia? What truths dispel them?

That’s a huge question. Fundamentally, my approach is to respect what opposite views on ‘dying and death’ that people have, but don’t reject my/our view to act differently.

Jacobsen: How does the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization provide a basis for becoming more informed on the subject of euthanasia? What are the most used resources of ERGO?

Our publications appear in many languages and are read all over the world.
Jacobsen: What sectors of societies tend to be the most against euthanasia, dying with dignity, the right to die, and medical assistance in dying, and so on?
The Roman Catholic Church is strongly against any form of assisted dying.  Protestant churches are divided.  Also against are Orthodox Jews but not Reform Jews. And, of course, Muslims are opposed.

The various Medical Associations (of doctors) have always been, as policy, against my views, but they’re coming round now that public opinion is swinging in our favor.
Jacobsen: What are the most important activist, legal and sociocultural, efforts ongoing at the moment for the advancement of the human rights in the likely most important decision someone will make with their life – its ending in time and in place?
There are 50 right-to-die groups in the world campaigning to get lawful doctor-assisted dying democratically introduced in their countries.

Jacobsen: What are some good resources, organizations, and people who speak on euthanasia?

Relevant web sites:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: