Although I am a firm believer in the right of everyone to express their opinion, I feel that I must respond to the information given by Catherine Monsour in her February 25 letter to the editor entitled, “What’s Going On In Annapolis?” I am writing not to persuade anyone to my opinion but to provide accurate information about the Death with Dignity Act.

The fact is that Maryland HB 399 (End-of-Life Option Act) is entirely voluntary on the part of all health care providers and the patient in every phase. No physician, pharmacist, or any other provider or facility is required to participate.

Alleviation of pain is not the purpose of the bill, or of the majority of those requesting this end-of-life option. No one wants to spend their last days in pain or drugged with high doses of medication; however, the three most frequently mentioned end-of-life concerns in Oregon (whose Death with Dignity bill has been implemented since 1998) in 2018 were: loss of autonomy (91.4%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (86.7%), and loss of dignity (71.4%). These are legitimate concerns for those who requested the medication and who did not wish to spend their final time dependent on others to take care of their most basic needs. To verify the accuracy of this information, please read HB 399 and consult websites listing the statistics associated with similar bills in other states.

As for falsification of documents that could lead to inaccurate health statistics, as my father used to say, “That dog won’t hunt.” The number of people in Oregon who died using the medications obtained under the law in 2018 was 168. These individuals had a variety of diseases, but all were expected to die within 6 months. I am not a statistician but this seems hardly enough to skew the demographics of any disease fatality.

Participation in aid-in-dying is entirely voluntary for all. Anyone who does not want to take this option, they do not have to do so. All I ask is that they do not impose their beliefs and opinions on me. I hope the Maryland legislators are compassionate and smart enough to make this option available to those of us who wish it.

(13) comments

threecents

Very good LTE. There is a common situation not addressed by this bill that should also be part of the conversation. That is a situation where the patient has a debilitating condition, such as severe dementia, that will not cause death within 6 months. Obviously, that is a tricky one, because the patient may not be of sound mind, and relatives might take advantage, but that fits the top three reasons stated in the LTE for requests for legal suicide and the prospect of living with dementia is something I think most of us dread.

BradleyWilliams

It is timely that we address the pitfalls of Oregon-type death laws.

The mandatory falsification of death certificates skews the public medical data base unnecessarily.

The realization that induced premature deaths are not peaceful nor rapid 25-72% of the time, quantified in the study by Bill Gallerizzo, is a call for amendments — amendments to ban the use of drugs deemed cruel for death row, for official assisted suicides where applicable and unofficial hastened deaths.

That would stir the backwaters of stealth euthanasia currently escaping scrutiny.

There are other amendment needs, like provide for a witness to our choice of the “self-administration." As it is, with no oversight, 17-21% of the subjects experience forced premature deaths to satisfy their facilitators.

These three amendments would bring much needed transparency to the administration of the public policy.

Bradley Williams,

Care Giver.......

public-redux

Hey, it’s Bradley Williams! Never to be heard from again until the next LTE on this subject. (waves hello and goodbye)

monsour1

I would like to refute several statements made by Mary Beth Coker about my letter “What’s going on in Annapolis?”. I did not give false information. The bill does not require a doctor to take part but does require that they refer to one who does. Though it does not say a pharmacist has to fill the prescription it does not say they can opt out of filling the prescription. I did not claim that pain is the reason that individuals consider this option. I said pain was a reason. Mary Beth gives statistics for three main reasons this option has been chosen, all of which are things felt by the non-terminally ill also, especially the disabled. Does she endorse this option for them? This is where this type of legislation has led to in other countries.

She makes light of the falsification of documents. Due to space restraints, I gave one example of how it would affect one statistic. There are numerous reasons not to pass a law that requires a false statement be made. The most important is that truth is at the very foundation of our legal system. If the person dies of a drug overdose then the death certificate should say so, and it should be verified. This proposed law does not appear to require verification of how the person died and this can lead to abuse. It is all in the hands of the doctor who doesn’t even have to be present at the death of the individual. And this law gives the doctor immunity from legal action. Mary Beth gives a figure for the number of deaths due to this type of law in Oregon but where does that figure come from? Does Oregon require that it be reported when this option is used? Maryland’s proposed law would not.

shiftless88

It still comes down to this; some people want to take their own life while the quality is still high. Are you going to make them swallow a shotgun to get it done? Will you clean up?

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] shiftless.

Dwasserba

More people will experience what it's like to try to argue against suicide, but your love for them is your problem to live with forever. Or maybe it only seems like forever.

Brookhawk

There are plenty of people who yell "Individual rights!" until what an individual wants to do with him/herself isn't what the "plenty of people" want. If our "individual rights" are not applicable to our own decisions about our own bodies, then "individual rights" do not exist. If we are not allowed to make the tough decisions about our own selves, then we are lying to ourselves about how free and independent we are.

The Grape of Wrath

No doubt many posts will follow from the I-don't-like-it-so-you-can't-do-it crowd.

Greg F

Then there will all be the crowd who just likes to troll opposing views for the sake of being trolls.

gary4books

Trolls do that.

gary4books

And that seems to come from a notion that all activities that we permit will someday be mandatory.

Greg F

Maybe we can mandate breathing so those that don't like it can stop doing it?

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