Who is fighting for the right to die? Older women's participation in the Hemlock Society

Health Care Women Int. 1998 Sep-Oct;19(5):365-80. doi: 10.1080/073993398246151.


Who is fighting for the right to die? Past literature has been mixed as to the membership of this social movement. In the current study, 6,398 Hemlock Society members were surveyed in an effort to answer questions concerning who is participating in the right to die movement, whether these participants are rapidly approaching their own death or reacting to the death of a loved one, and whether the movement is invigorated by singular activists. The findings indicate that older, white, wealthy, highly educated, economically and politically active women are in the forefront of the right to die movement. These women report currently being mentally and physically healthy, yet already having taken the steps that will allow them to have an element of control over their death. Finally, right to die support seems to be part of a larger collective network concerning health care and political policy issues.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Euthanasia* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Lobbying*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Right to Die* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Societies*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Women* / education
  • Women* / psychology