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?