The following news release was issued on Jan. 7, 2015.
ST. PAUL — A physician charged with assisting the suicide of a Minnesota woman has been barred from practicing medicine. The Maryland Board of Physicians revoked the medical license of Dr. Lawrence Egbert after he facilitated the suicides of six people in Maryland.
"We commend this decision of the Maryland Board of Physicians," stated Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. "Egbert's actions promoting killing are simply incompatible with the role of a physician, which is to heal and care for patients, not to kill them."
Egbert was the medical director for Final Exit Network, an organization that helps people kill themselves, including people who are mentally ill. Egbert says he has helped arrange about 300 suicides and been present for 100, but he has so far avoided any convictions.
Egbert is also part of an ongoing case in Minnesota. Egbert and Final Exit flew to Minnesota in 2007 and assisted the suicide of an Apple Valley woman using helium and a plastic bag. They sought to cover up the evidence after she died. Egbert is now charged with assisting suicide and interference with a dead body. Minnesota law prohibits assisted suicide under Minnesota Statutes section 609.215, subdivision 1.
"Assisted suicide is not legal in Minnesota," said Fischbach. "Our law protects patients who are vulnerable, depressed, sick or disabled. No one should be excluded from our protection and care."
The Final Exit case was put on hold until a related assisted suicide case was resolved last fall. It was then sent back to the trial court, which held a hearing on Dec. 8. The trial will take place later this year.
Newsweek has called Egbert the "New Doctor Death," following in the footsteps of the late Jack Kevorkian, the notorious pathologist who assisted 130 people in killing themselves during the 1990s and spent years in prison for murder. None of Egbert's six suicide victims in Maryland were terminally ill, according to the Maryland Board of Physicians, and one victim appeared to be merely depressed. The board determined that Egbert's actions were illegal and violated the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics, which strongly condemns assisted suicide.
In a 2012 interview with the Washington Post, Egbert described how his helium suicide contraption works. "[The people committing suicide] turn blue or bluish — we can say gray," Egbert said. "After they're unconscious, their muscles start twitching. That's very upsetting to relatives. Some think they're trying to wrench the bag off."
"Patients need our support and care," Fischbach responded. "They need to know that their lives matter. They do not need a so-called doctor to guide them in taking their own lives."