Death with dignity
October 7, 2008 · Updated 2:08 PM
In response to a letter to the editor from the Oct. 1 edition of The Globe, thank goodness that being hard of hearing or being “older” are not criteria for requesting a lethal prescription for ending your life.
The law as written requires that you be mentally competent, over the age of 18 and are considered to be dying from terminal disease such ALS, cancer or AIDS, with less than six months to live.
The law also provides safe guards, such as one of your children or others who might profit from your death cannot sign or witness your request to end your life with a lethal prescription. The prescription cannot be written unless two physicians agree that you are mentally competent, suffering from a disease that will end your life within six months and are making the decision without pressure from others.
Disability, age, race, ethnicity and economic status are all irrelevant under I-1000. Only people who are diagnosed as terminally ill with less than six months to live are eligible to use the law.
Please don’t allow these scare tactics to dissuade you. Read the law yourself and make an informed decision, go to www. secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i1000.pdf.
I should have the right to end my life if the suffering becomes too unbearable for my family and me. Don’t I have the right to choose what is best for me, my family and my end of life decisions? I don’t consider this to be assisted suicide. Suicide is a choice between life and death, Death With Dignity is a choice of death on my terms or death by the disease’s terms. I think it should be my decision.
There seems to be some confusion about what the death with dignity law would actually do. To be clear, voting yes on the Death with Dignity initiative simply gives patients a choice, a choice of when to talk with their family and whether to take the lethal medication after it has been prescribed according to the safeguards stipulated. No one is ever forced to do anything under the law.
And yes, we are all terminal. I’ve told my children “As soon as we are born, we start dying … we begin aging.” That does not mean that I don’t treasure life and want to preserve it if at all possible, but if I am drowning in my own lung fluid or am unable to swallow or communicate with my loved ones while suffering from ALS, I might want to make a difficult decision and end my life before nature takes it’s course.