The letter in italics below was published in the Hawaii Free Press on Feb 15, 2011. It provides further evidence of our contention that people with disabilities are not the only people whose lives are devalued. The lives of people with serious illness and people with old age are also considered not worth living by some in the medical profession. This devaluation leads to subtle or overt pressure to die.
In the case of William Peace, about whom we wrote in our last posting, the invitation was to refuse antibiotics and accept “comfort care”. In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, a very sick man (but one who lived five more years) received “a sales pitch for assisted suicide”. We will all be people with old age or serious illness one day. We need to stop the spread of legal assisted suicide, because it threatens all our lives.
We found the letter on the website of Mass. Against Assisted Suicide (http://www.massagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/i-was-afraid-to-leave-my-husband-alone.html).
Massachusetts is fighting the most dangerous kind of battle against legalization of assisted suicide, which will be a ballot question there in November. If anyone has friends in Massachusetts, please urge them to look at this website, the website of Second Thoughts, another Massachusetts group (http://www.second-thoughts.org/main) and ours. It is so important that people educate themselves to resist the other side’s propaganda. Education is the reason why no legislature in the US has ever passed an assisted suicide bill. Lack of it is the reason why voters have made it legal in two states.
If assisted suicide were to pass in Massachusetts, the proponents would be surely emboldened to try even harder here in Vermont and in other New England states. Let’s do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.
Here’s the letter.
Hello from Oregon.
When my husband was seriously ill several years ago, I collapsed in a half-exhausted heap in a chair once I got him into the doctor’s office, relieved that we were going to get badly needed help (or so I thought).
To my surprise and horror, during the exam I overheard the doctor giving my husband a sales pitch for assisted suicide. ‘Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her’ he said, as a clincher.
Now, if the doctor had wanted to say ‘I don’t see any way I can help you, knowing what I know, and having the skills I have’ that would have been one thing. If he’d wanted to opine that certain treatments weren’t worth it as far as he could see, that would be one thing. But he was tempting my husband to commit suicide. And that is something different.
I was indignant that the doctor was not only trying to decide what was best for David, but also what was supposedly best for me (without even consulting me, no less).
We got a different doctor, and David lived another five years or so. But after that nightmare in the first doctor’s office, and encounters with a ‘death with dignity’ inclined nurse, I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses, for fear they’d morph from care providers to enemies, with no one around to stop them.
It’s not a good thing, wondering who you can trust in a hospital or clinic. I hope you are spared this in Hawaii.
Kathryn Judson, Oregon