To the editor:
Last year both Maine and New Jersey passed death with dignity laws, giving terminally ill and mentally capable citizens who face great pain and unrelieved suffering at the end of their lives the compassionate option of taking medication prescribed by their doctor and dying peacefully and painlessly in their sleep.
Oregon has had this law for 22 years, Washington State for 11 years. Five other states plus Washington, D.C., have had it for two to seven years. It has worked as intended, with more-than-adequate safeguards to ensure there has not been one substantiated case of abuse or coercion of an elder, disabled or low-income person.
The proposed law is called the End of Life Options Act (H.1926 and S.1208).
Rep. Leonard Mirra is one of the co-sponsors of the bill. Reps. James Kelcourse, Andrew Vargas and Linda Campbell have indicated they would vote for it.
Sens. Bruce Tarr and Diana DiZoglio have discussed the bill with some of their constituents and are still undecided.
I hope readers will call on their to support this bill. It's expected to soon pass the Legislature's Public Health Committee and could come up for a vote by the full House or Senate in the late winter or spring.
Hospice and palliative care services are wonderful and keep many people comfortable at the end. But there are still many very difficult dying processes, and that's why I want this option for myself, my family, friends and fellow citizens.