The right-to-die movement: Extrapolating from the national Hemlock Society USA membership survey

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Family, Life Course, and Society | Sociology


A national membership survey of Hemlock Society USA was conducted by Fox and Kamakahi (1995). Respondents (N = 6398) were asked a variety of questions, but in this paper we perform a longitudinal analysis of the characteristics of Hemlock Society USA members. Hemlock Society USA members are divided into three 5-year cohorts: Early Joiners (11 or more years of membership), Middle Joiners (6 to 10 years membership), and Late Joiners (5 or fewer years of membership). Differences between cohorts are examined and extrapolations made regarding Hemlock Society USA and the Right-to-Die Movement. A series of one-way ANOVAs were used with Scheme post-hoc comparisons as heuristic tools for assessing between-cohort differences. Late Joiners are different from earlier members, but are more like other Hemlock Society USA members than the adult U.S. population at large. Hemlock Society USA members are essentially societal elites (based on socio-demographic variables) who work in social environments that are decidedly split on the issue of voluntary suicide and euthanasia.