Guest Column: Assisted suicide in America
Physician assisted suicide is becoming a bit more popular in America. A New Mexico judge recently ruled that terminally ill, mentally competent patients have the right to ask a physician to end their lives. This would make New Mexico the fifth state to make it legal.
My first wife progressively died for twelve years. Multiple sclerosis took her from a vibrant active person to a total invalid unable to do anything but talk. She was a prisoner inside of a body incapable of functioning to any degree whatsoever. On New Year's Eve three years before she died she begged me to call Dr. Kevorkian, who became famous for assisting 130 people in their deaths. She later tried suicide and once begged me to put her in our closed garage and start the car. She did not want to die and leave her family but living trapped inside of a body ravaged by disease was excruciating for her.
I know how I personally feel. Should I get to the point where I am without hope of ever enjoying this momentary world I would like to simply go on over to the other side to be with my Lord.
There are some problems herein. Life should always be our priority. My heart screams out, "No to any assisted suicide." We need to put our priorities on finding new cures for disease and enabling people to live to ripe old ages so that one day while watching Andy Griffith we just sort of nod off and wake up in a better place. Our society's prioritymust never focus on how we can more readily help our sick and aged die faster but how we can heal and help life to be more enjoyable. However, life cannot be very enjoyable if we are imprisoned in a body that will not function.
Physician assisted suicide is also legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont. Terminally ill patients in these states can now have their doctors prescribe a fatal prescription. Patients must make the request. Keep in mind this is illegal in most of our country. Also, in many cases persons get beyond the point of making such a decision and linger often in vegetative states. This is where a living will comes into play so that life support can be removed and Hospice can assist.
I will be redundant. I don't like the idea of ending anybody's life. About a month before my wife died our doctor called me off into a corner and said, "Glenn, there comes a time. She has struggled with this for so long. We have done all we can do. My response was, " I want you to help her live." "Okay, we will do all we can, " he assured. They did try and she lived about another month. I will always be glad for that one more month as we talked about things I would otherwise have missed.
The end of life is a tough conversation for anybody facing it regardless of which side of the bed you are sitting.
The bible says there is a time to die. Having someone we love voluntarily make that decision about ending his or her life just doesn't seem like that is what the bible is talking about. However, keep in mind that God is bigger, more loving and far more forgiving than we are.
Glenn Mollette is the author of Silent Struggler: A Caregiver's Personal Story and nine other books.