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Letter to the Editor – April 10, 2015

Posted: April 10th, 2015 | Featured, Letters to the editor | No Comments

Californians ‘need death with dignity’ law

By Judy Waterman

I am writing in strong support of the “End-of-Life Option Act” (state Senate Bill 128). This legislation would allow a mentally competent, terminally ill person in the final stages of their disease to request medication from a physician to bring about a peaceful death. The availability of this option can also provide peace of mind to those who are dying and for their families.

Aid in dying is a very important issue to me and I’d like to tell you why. At the end of my mother’s life, she was in excruciating pain from cancer. Her life had become unbearable. One night, alone, she went to her garage and took her life with a gun — a very violent act that is hard to erase from my mind. She would not have had to do it if the “end of life option” had been in place in California.

SB 128 is modeled after Oregon’s 1997 “Death with Dignity Act.” The extensive — and important — safeguards in SB-128 will ensure that the choice made by a terminally ill person to access aid in dying is informed, deliberate and voluntary.

Oregon’s experience demonstrates that this law, with safeguards to protect against any abuse, can improve end-of-life pain management and health care for all terminally ill people whether choosing to access aid in dying or not.

We should always provide quality end-of-life care for people who are suffering from an incurable and irreversible terminal illness. Yet if a person has only months, weeks or even days to live, when there is nothing else that medicine can treat and it becomes impossible to provide relief from pain, we should allow that person the option to end their pain and suffering by shortening their dying process.

I urge you to support this important bill. For more information, contact compassionandchoices.org.

—Judy Waterman is a local retired freelance artist and photographer who is now dedicating her time to the passage of California’s SB-128, the End-of-Life Option Act. She can be reached at jwkeywest@gmail.com.  

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