Marshall Frank, Community columnist, June 9, 2017  —  This Op-Ed appears in the 6/9/17 edition of Florida Today.

Florida should follow the lead of other states by enacting such a law.

Florence, 81, was an Oregon resident, diagnosed with painful pancreatic cancer. The doctor gave her less than eight weeks to live. After confirming with a second opinion by another doctor, she elected to die with dignity.

On a Saturday afternoon, she invited her two adult kids and their kids to her apartment. She hugged them all, shared loving words, sat on a sofa and lifted a glass of water. She swallowed 10 Seconal sleeping pills. Within 30 minutes, she was pain-free, consumed in eternal sleep.

Some folks may find this a gruesome, but it is important to talk about it.

Free-thinking people with debilitating and incurable illnesses should have the right to choose when and how to end their lives (with certain restrictions and caveats). Once people arrive at advanced ages and then suffer with horrible diseases and/or pain from which there is little relief, they should be afforded opportunities to make a clear and thoughtful choice. The technology is at our disposal, so why not?

Because we have deep compassion for animals suffering in pain, we do the humane thing. The difference is that human beings who are suffering can make the choice themselves. It’s called doctor assisted suicide.

Six states — Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, Montana  and Vermont — have enacted laws allowing people with verifiable fatal diseases to obtain relief from physicians who can write prescriptions for medicine that achieve a peaceful, self-induced end to life. Oregon reports that since 1998, more than 1,500 patients have been given such prescriptions, while less than 1,000 have actually carried out suicide. Another 17 states have since introduced, or considered, aid-in-dying bills.

Two objections are generally raised against such laws. One is religious-based, which reverts to faith. If the process violates the tenets of one’s religion, people should not be coerced into such a situation. But when patients plead for relief and death is imminent, he/she should be afforded the same compassion we show cocker spaniels.

When considering the tortuous pain terminal patients suffer while fighting diseases like lung or liver cancer with drugs as the only relief, it is a humane act to provide an option to end suffering. Such a process ends ongoing anguish for parents, spouses, siblings and offspring who must continually suffer with stricken loved ones. It also puts a halt to the ballooning health care cost machine where expenditures rack up mega-thousands of dollars.

Those who are lucky will arrive at old age and eventually pass away peacefully. Some of us are not so lucky. Some are doomed to months or years of fruitless and painful struggle which can be voluntarily alleviated.

The nation is growing older, which means the country will be growing sicker and increasingly dependent. Quality of life will certainly suffer for a percentage of the elderly. According to recent studies, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will double from 46 million today to more than 98 million by 2060, comprising 24 percent of the population. Today, Florida ranks No. 1 among all states per capita with 19.06 percent over age 65,

Colorado was the last state to pass a Death with Dignity law in November of 2016, when voters approved Proposition 106, the End of Life Options Act, by a 65 to 35 percent margin.

Florida should follow the lead of other states by enacting such a law. As the population ages further, the problems of terminal disease will continue to rise as will the burdens of health care costs explode.

Tallahassee should be considering such a law for Florida. If not here, then where?

Click here: Time to allow death with dignity in Sunshine State



  1. Charles Pierce June 9, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

    A very slippery slope, read the book “Imbeciles” and then tell me if what you wrote is correct or simply believing what the Left would have us believe. The Netherlands have had such a policy for a decade or more and the age and the reason for allowing Doctor Assisted Suicide keep going down. I am 73 have a bunch of spare parts and I do know when I will die but it will not be because someone convinced me that is the best for me and more importantly for the society. Sorry but on this one you dead wrong. No pun intended.

  2. Bill June 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    I don’t think we need a law. If someone wants to take their life there are many ways to do it. Florence overdosed on sleeping pills that any Doctor would have given her. The idea of assisted suiside mean some has to help. Why put that guilt on anyone?

  3. Penny Zee June 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    I usually agree with you but I truly believe you’re wrong on this one Marshall

  4. Pete June 9, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    ….too many variables. When death will come should be put off until decided by a power larger than us.

  5. Patrick Pesce June 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    I agree with all of the above!

    • Keith C June 10, 2017 at 10:45 am #

      I believe that David summed it up nicely. I sure wish that I had that option in the state that I live in.

      Keith C

  6. David Lee Valdina June 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

    I am all in favor of allowing people to decide when they want to die. It is a matter of personal freedom. It is a matter of personal decision. The state has no business interfering. Many who oppose it do so on religious grounds, and if that is how they believe, fine, for them. But separation of church and state is the law of the land. And the unfortunate reality is that most of us, in unending pain with no hope of relief would probably decide to end our own life, especially if we are late in our years. One other consideration. Financial. I have built up what estate I have and hope when I die, the kids and grandkids get it. If I can see into the future and it is several years of heavy expenses of uninsured medical care and nursing home costs, lasting until the estate is gone, then I would probably opt to check out early. I have seen a lot of family and friends die. As we grow older, it is to be expected. When a family member is nearing death, whether a few days, a month or even a year away, all the family that are close almost put their own lives on hold. Life is for the living. The quality of life matters more than the quantity. My views.
    Respectfully, David Lee Valdina, age 75

    • Jan Carmichel June 9, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

      I also agree with this. As we get older and older and are in constant pain and cannot do much I believe we should have a choice of how we want to live. I have gone thru many surgeries and other illnesses that there are days I wonder how long I can take it. I am doing a day by day now and just keep hoping that things will turn around.

    • Patti June 10, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      I am not addressing your argument or your personal situation.Like you said,”Personal Freedom”,but the idea that “SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE is already the LAW of the Land”.Not so.That phrase cannot be found ANYWHERE in the Constitution,Declaration or Bill of Rights.As a matter of fact,for YEARS,I have offered to write a check for $1,000.00 to anyone who can find it anywhere in these docs.I’ve had a lot of EXCITED people but , NEVER any takers because it’s not in there.The First ammendment was to PROTECT religion FROM the Govt’. interference & to prevent a STATE religion,like the Church of England.Marshall can back me up on this & he also knows where to find me if you happen to find it.Happy reading & I wish you Peace.

  7. Don G. June 9, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

    Marshall, that was an excellent article.

  8. Charlie Greene June 9, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

    I read the column in Florida Today. I’m totally on board with your outlook on this subject.

  9. Eileen June 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    I absolutely agree with you, Marshall. My mother’s last nine years were a living hell. She was near death on many occasions, and had expressed her wishes to die many times; but the medical profession and good old NY state laws kept her alive for 9 suffering years. If I’m ever diagnosed with a terminal condition I will do everything in my physical power to establish residency in one of the humane states you mentioned.

  10. George S. June 10, 2017 at 7:09 am #

    Interesting article on “death rights” so to speak. I, having worked in the medical field in radiology for years, have seen oncological patients in considerable stress, waiting for death, wishing for it. Cancer can ruin entire families on so many levels. I am sympathetic to those afflicted wishing for death. Terminal illness can be devastating.

    Great work.

  11. Bill Schultz June 10, 2017 at 8:15 am #

    Marshall – You said: “Two objections are generally raised against such laws.” I see the religious objection but, I don’t see the second.

  12. Russ Johns June 10, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    I agree with you Marshall, but I would caution anyone considering such a drastic step to check with their lawyer. Their life insurance policy may not payoff when the holder commits suicide.

  13. Patti June 10, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    Unfortunately Marshall,”people” with bad intentions could be involved.It’s very complicated .
    Those who are suffering should be & ALREADY can be “assisted” by their doctors with heavy meds that just “put them to sleep”.
    In MY opinion,our animals are a different story.It’s our responsibility to alleviate their suffering because WE have UNNATURALLY prolonged their lives. If left in the “wild”,the weak ones would have been attacked & died MUCH SOONER,so I FEEL it’s our duty to stop their suffering. 🙁

  14. Snake Hunter{s} June 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

    The human body that suffers with a cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other organs is deemed to be incurable. The patient must now face the grim fact of a future filled with pain… unless that person chooses… to logically… painlessly stop the suffering.

    In the opening paragraph, 81 year old Florence chose to die with dignity and grace, among
    her loving family members. All is well.

    Thank you, Marshall. – reb

    ___ ___

  15. Bill B June 11, 2017 at 10:47 am #

    I agree totally with you on this one Marshall.

    Watching my mother ,in her 14th year of dementia, deteriorate to the point where she has no recognition of me or her surroundings, no speech capabilities, and just cries out from pain convinced me that it would have been a blessing to have been able to pass on peacefully years ago.

    If I am diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimers I will find a state permitting assisted suicide and pass on peacefully, without a doubt!

  16. Ron Fischer June 11, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

    My family lives in Oregon. My 78 year old friend who was terminally ill with cancer, elected death with dignity. My Uncle had terminal cancer and elected death with dignity. My Aunt had incurable ALS and elected death with dignity. My mother, now 92 years old, is suffering from dementia and has instructed us to allow her passing to be with dignity and no suffering when the time comes.

    In every instance, the passing was quiet, dignified, and painless. All parties appreciated the option.

  17. Eric Viehman June 11, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

    I see you received some push back on this one Marshall. As I watched up close my mother in law suffer with Alzheimers until her death, I am more inclined to lean your way. I understand the other issues that respondents above have brought forward. I would be curious how the states you have mentioned have handled the slippery slope issues. There must be serious oversight and hoops to jump through to make sure no one is killing granny for her inheritance. The religious issue has nothing to do with government intervention. Non of their business.
    Ever dealt with Hospice? These are God’s people for sure.

  18. Clearstory June 13, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

    I normally disagree with you Mr.Frank. On this one I am with you . It seems all the PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL ideas be it the war in Vietnam, marijuuana , and now right to die and in time global warming are slowly accepted by the right wing always to late. Then again progressive have been pulling right wingers forward dragging and screaming forward be it in the arts ,sciences and human rights ? Left up to right wingers we’d still be living in caves .