Death with Dignity Act

I recently watched the documentary, “How to Die in Oregon.” This is the summary:

“In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. As a result, any individual whom two physicians diagnose as having less than six months to live can lawfully request a fatal dose of barbiturate to end his or her life. Since 1994, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In How to Die in Oregon, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether – and when – to end their lives by lethal overdose. Richardson examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. What emerges is a life-affirming, staggeringly powerful portrait of what it means to die with dignity.”

I am very passionate about this subject.  I believe you have the right to have a planned and peaceful death. If you are in pain because of a terminal illness or old age, you should be allowed to have control over your death. If you can plan your death, you can enjoy the time you have left and be able to say goodbye to family and friends. It comes to a point in life where you are not in control of anything. This gives people control. It doesn’t matter if they decide to take the medication or not.

I am so glad this act exists in the state that I live in. I hope that other states will follow as well. My hope is that my mom and dad can have the choice to end their life when it gets to the point when the suffering is unbearable.

My dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. There is no cure. It worsens as it progresses and is terminal. The final stage includes loss of verbal language abilities, bedridden due to deteriorated muscle mass and mobility, and they are not able to feed themselves.

Even if this passed in Colorado, my dad probably wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it. Here’s why:

  1. The person must be terminal within six months of their suicide, and most people with Alzheimer’s live five to 10 years after diagnosis.

2.  “The person must be mentally competent, fully understanding the consequences of what they’re doing and capable of administering the medications. By definition, Alzheimer’s robs its victims of good judgment — of the capacity to understand consequences — and ultimately the ability to carry out their own deaths.”

I think we need to take it to the next level. Jack Kevorkian got in trouble for administering lethal medications for those who couldn’t do it themselves. I understand that it becomes the slippery slope of euthanasia. But, it must be done so that our loved ones don’t suffer. The Death with Dignity Act is a great start. This is what you can do so that you don’t suffer in the end:

“Make very clear in your Directive to Physician and Durable Power of Attorney that you do not want your life prolonged unnecessarily and that, at the first opportunity, your wish is to avoid any life-sustaining treatment. Talk to the people you’ve named as your substitute decision-makers to make sure they understand your wishes and agree to carry them out.”

There is an organization called End of Life Washington. It is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the treatment of pain and expanded end-of-life options. Volunteers and staff facilitate discussions between patients, physicians and family members. I would love to be a part of this someday.

*Information from www.howtodieinoregon.com, Wikipedia, The Seattle Times

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