Death with Dignity: An End of Life Option


If you were terminally ill, living with unbearable pain and suffering greatly, would you want the peace of mind of knowing that you could obtain a prescription to take your own life and die at the time and place of your own choosing?  

It seems that most Californians would……A recent bipartisan poll showed that 69% of California voters, including 70% of Latinos and 60 % of Catholics support Death with Dignity, California’s End of Life Options  Act/SB 128. Currently this bill is stalled in our state’s Assembly allowing the Health Committee members more time for consideration and review.

Currently Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and one county in New Mexico allow terminally ill patients to request medication from their physician to end their lives humanely. The drugs are prescribed by a doctor and administered voluntarily by the patient when and IF they choose to.  Interestingly, over half of the patients who request the drugs, never use them.  The peace of mind inherent in just having the medical aid in dying, gives the patient the comfort to get through one more day and is actually a deterrent to ending one’s life. 

Death with Dignity, is the topic of conversation on Wise Woman Storytime this week.  David Ross tells his personal story of living with a stage 4 diagnosis of throat cancer. Should  the disease return he has been told that there are no more curative options available to him. Also joining the conversation is Carole van Alestyn, a hospice nurse, the former California Director for End of Life Consultations and currently a Compassion and Choices volunteer and speaker, who advocates for the civil rights of patients to choose death with dignity.

This show helps to unravel what Death with Dignity is and is not; and gives important information about the requirements, guidelines and mandated regulations that are built into these laws.

Death and dying are a part of life not often talked about, but needs to be discussed, thought about and planned for. So whether you’re young or old, healthy or ill, listen to this important show.  It may very well change the way you think, make decisions, and plan for your life and death.

 For more information about California’s End of Life Options Act/SB 128 or general end of life issues, contact Compassion and Choices.

By Roberta Teller