BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He’s known as “Dr. Death,” a Baltimore man who helps terminally ill patients end their lives. Now he faces new felony charges.
Adam May has the details.
These charges are just the latest legal challenge for the right-to-die movement.
Dr. Lawrence Egbert from Baltimore is the modern-day Jack Kevorkian. He’s been arrested numerous times for illegally assisting in suicides.
Egbert was medical director of the Final Exit Network, a group that offers support and a suicide plan for people suffering from a variety of fatal diseases and conditions. Authorities in Minnesota are the latest to criminally charge the doctor and his colleagues. In 2007, prosecutors say Egbert traveled to the Twin Cities to see a patient.
“She eventually decided to take her life with the advice, encouragement and assistance of the Final Exit Network,” said Minnesota prosecutor James Backstrom.
Doreen Dunn was 57 years old, living with pain for 10 years. She secretly called Final Exit and died from helium asphyxiation.
Egbert explained the suicides to WJZ in 2010.
“You have this bag of helium over your head like this and the person will breathe the helium and become unconscious in 30 to 60 seconds,” Egbert said. “We do nothing but give advice. You have to pull down the balloon. I won’t pull it down for you.”
Physician-assisted suicide is illegal in 38 states, including Maryland, but the law in Georgia was recently found unconstitutional after Egbert was cleared of wrongdoing in the suicide of a throat cancer patient.
The president of Final Exit defends the right to die, telling WJZ, “It is appalling that the government would spend so much of its resources on this political prosecution.”
Oregon is the only state with specific guidelines for assisted suicide. Last year, 114 terminally ill people ended their lives legally.
Egbert will have his first court appearance in Minnesota next month.