Editorial: Death with Dignity initiative promotes a humane choice

October 7, 2008

By Staff

In June, Initiative 1000, Death with Dignity, was submitted to the state for inclusion on the state ballot. I-1000 didn’t just get the necessary signatures, its volunteers gathered 320,000 signatures, 50 percent more than was necessary.

Family members who have watched their loved ones suffer through their ending days in severe pain — and no other real options — are now the volunteers behind the Death with Dignity campaign.

We hope voters will be, too. It’s not about right to life; it’s about the right to a semblance of quality of life. No one should have to consciously choose to starve to death to get out from under the pain of an illness whose prognosis is death. Without having walked in such a person’s shoes, readers can certainly imagine how hard that must be for both the patient and the family members who must bear witness to a slow, agonizing death.

If the majority of voters say yes, I-1000 will apply only to mentally competent patients who are capable of making their own decision and self-administering the oral medication necessary to help them die a few months earlier than they would have otherwise. A medical professional has to ascertain that the patient has six months or less to live, the decision must be made in writing and witnessed, and then there are two waiting periods built in to allow the patient to change his/her mind.

The Washington initiative is based on the Oregon model that was approved there more than a decade ago.

Opponents of the Right to Life movement should be in favor of this death option. Whereas a fetus has no choice, this law would allow the dying patient to make his/her own choice about how to exit. Some will argue that can only be God’s choice. Proponents see it as God helping those who help themselves.

Some opponents of I-1000 will refer to the life-death option as assisted suicide, but this has no resemblance to suicide. It is a humane end to a life that is already ending.

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