Simple human dignity and compassion. It’s hard to juxtapose that with end-of-life medical interventions that serve only to prolong pain and suffering, often against the wishes of the patient, while adding thousands of dollars to medical costs for no benefit.
Faced with such suffering and no hope of recovery, would you opt out if you could?
That’s exactly what one Washington woman did recently, becoming the first person to take advantage of the state’s Death with Dignity law. Diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and certain death, she made a conscious, well thought out decision about her own death.
In the comfort of her own home, with her family and her physician present, she took the prescribed medication that would end her life peacefully. Contrast that with the alternative mixture of powerful drugs, tubes and wires, and the beeping machines of a cold hospital room.
CNN reports that Washington’s law was approved by about 60 percent of voters last November, and 401 people have taken advantage of Oregon’s assisted suicide law since it passed in 1994.
It’s not the right choice for everyone, but it is a welcome relief to many folks to know that the option is there, without drastic consequences for the loved ones left behind.
As uncomfortable as this topic may be, it is an important one and something we should be discussing with those closest to us. Advanced directives — a living will — is the best way to ensure that your wishes are documented, avoid unnecessary confusion for your loved ones. A medical power-of-attorney allows you to choose who will made decisions on your behalf, if you become unable. Laws vary from state to state.
Controversial though it may be, this is a compassionate law, and a dignified option that joins the patient and doctor together in the goal of easing suffering for the terminally ill.
More information on end-of-life issues can be found at:
Do you believe assisted suicide is acceptable?