Death with Dignity laws

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The recent death of a 29-year old woman who chose to use the Death with Dignity law in Oregon has invigorated the debate about our right to make choices about our healthcare at the end of our life. Brittany Maynard had a brain tumor that doctors said would end her life in a most undignified manner and she chose not to experience that part of her illness. She completed her Bucket List and enjoyed the last quality time she could with her husband and parents, and died peacefully at the time of her choosing at home in her own bed surrounded by those who loved her.

If you are facing such a decision, whether you are thinking about the Death with Dignity option or not, this book by a Near-Death Experiencer, will help you find acceptance and peace of mind as you navigate medical decisions, care options including palliative and hospice services, conversations with family and providers, filling out Advance Healthcare Directives and making decisions about how your want to die.

Beyond the Veil is for caregivers who will be transition guides for their loved ones, for families to help them have the necessary conversations, and for the dying person who wants desperately to know what is happening to them along their journey home.

Excerpt from Beyond the Veil: our journey home by Diane Goble about Death with Dignity laws:

Reasonable laws can prevent abuse while honoring self-respect, human dignity and compassion. Just as an obstetrician might administer a drug to hasten a birth, a doctor may prescribe a drug that will hasten not death but the rebirth of our spiritual nature. Prepared ahead of time and guided by a transition guide’s voice reading one’s Personal Transition Guidebook, it is a peaceful journey home beyond the veil.

Some people believe it is a slippery slope to allow this at all. They are afraid mentally or physically disabled or senile elderly people will be murdered for convenience. Perhaps in some societies where human life isn’t valued that could be true. It is up to those who believe in death with dignity to make sure laws are in place to prevent forced euthanasia by designating medical professionals and safe procedures to provide humane, compassionate assistance to those who decide of their own free will to exercise this option.

A May 2005 Galllup Poll indicated that 75% of Americans support “euthanasia” for certain patients but only 58% support “doctor-assisted suicide” for the same patients. Use of the term “suicide” was the only difference in the question asked. The Gallup Poll conclusion was that the use of the word caused the apparent conflict in values.

Opponents count on the negative emotional impact of the term. Calling it “suicide” or “murder” conjures up images that clash with religious beliefs and humanitarian values, but have nothing to do with personal choice at the end of life.

This is what Dr. Jack Kervorkian fought for–a patient’s right to choose and the physician’s role at end of life. It’s nobody’s business except the person who is dying, his physician and his family members (and sometimes not the latter). It’s continuing care through the end of life.

Instead of physicians abandoning their patients at the end of their invasive medical treatment options, they could stay with them to provide the medication that will quickly end their suffering if that is their patient’s final request.

Their Hippocratic oath says, firstly, do no harm, but if forcing a person to stay alive while their body  progressively deteriorates for years, whether physically or mentally, isn’t doing harm, I don’t know what is. Seems to me physicians need a better understanding of compassion. Continuing to swear an oath to Greek gods is out of touch with contemporary reality–the earth is not flat and doctors are not gods.

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