In italics below is a letter to the editor published on October 19, 2010 in Florida’s TCPalm newpaper (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2010/oct/19/letter-im-so-glad-doctor-didnt-assist-me-with-of/?print=1). One of the many reasons we should defeat the legalization of assisted suicide is that doctors cannot predict with certainty when a person is actually dying. People can live longer than predicted because they get high quality hospice or palliative care or because, like Jeanette Hall, the author of this letter, they are treated. Vermont’s proposed law does not say a person who requests a lethal overdose must be beyond hope of successful treatment. It says only that, in the judgement of two doctors, the person “would die within six months”. Why does it avoid mentioning treatment? Think how many diseases would be fatal without treatment. The author of this letter was blessed that her doctor urged her to accept treatment and that she could afford it. Another Oregon cancer patient, Barbara Wagner, was denied Medicaid coverage for life-extending chemotherapy , but offered coverage for assisted suicide among a diminished list of options. Is this choice?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I disagree with Marshall Frank’s column, “Florida ready for its own Death with Dignity Act, to give terminally ill patients a choice.” Here in Oregon we have such a law. In other words, assisted suicide is legal. Our law was enacted via a ballot initiative that I voted for.
In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had six months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, but he didn’t really answer me.
I did not want to suffer. I wanted to die and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am so happy to be alive.
It is now nearly 10 years later. If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead. I thank him and all my doctors for helping me choose “life with dignity.” Assisted suicide should not be legal. Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.
King City, Ore.