On the Right to Die: John Hofsess’ Secret Assisted Suicide Service

Photo by Alexander Boden -- CCBY 2.0 SA

At Toronto Life, John Hofsess posthumously reveals the secret assisted suicide service he offered to eight Canadians — among them the poet Al Purdy — on the day of his own assisted death.

The maximum penalty for assisted suicide was 14 years in prison. I was raising the stakes: by giving Al a pre-death sedative, my actions could be construed not as assisted suicide but as premeditated, first-degree murder, with a mandatory life sentence. Looking into his eyes, respecting his intellect, hearing his wishes repeated over time, knowing him to be an independent person and thinker, I needed no further assurance that he, in a rational state, had authorized me to be his agent and partner in ending his life. All he would have to do was sip his wine and say farewell to the love of his life, while his favourite music played quietly in the background. I felt honoured that he delegated the technical details to me.

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