Sunday, March 08, 2009

Good Legislation/Bad Legislation

Two articles caught my attention this morning. One was a guest opinion in the Spokesman entitled We'll live to regret suicide initiative ; the other was a poll in the magazine section regarding whether the government should pass laws to fight obesity.

As to the first, Washington state has recently legalized physician assisted suicide similar to what has long been legal in Oregon. I prefer calling it death with dignity. It eases the more tawdry implications, while being a better indicator of it's true purpose.

The writer feels this is the first step toward a convenient way of killing one another when death may or may not be imminent even though the medical opinion may so state. He uses himself as a case in point. He had been given the six month prognosis back in November 2005 and has lived to write this column.

As I read his thoughts I was thinking of the power Hub and I are holding over our dog's life. One day, probably in the not too distant future, we will have to make the decision if it's time to let him go. We've done it five times before and it never gets any easier. You ask yourself if you have the right to make that decision and you agonize over the timing.

One of the writer's points is that this legislation will eliminate trusting in God to determine the course. I have some problems with that thinking. I will concede, not having read the legislation, that he may have some valid points in pointing out weaknesses in the details. I look at the issue from a broader perspective.

First, just because the legislation is in place does not mean anyone has to utilize it. If you'd rather take your chances, go for it!
On the other hand, when one is in such severe discomfort that it's being considered in the first place, I, at least would like to have the option.

Those of you who are long time readers know I had a friend in Oregon who exercised the option. She was not weak, nor was she coerced. She was just plain exhausted from fighting constant pain and no hope. What course would God have chosen for her? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Who's to know. She was at peace with her decision as was her family. Those of us left behind are the ones who struggled with it. The question foremost in our minds was could we make that decision for ourselves. There may well come a point where many of us might want that option.

We ask the same about Bacchus. We've already decided we will not take extraordinary measures again. We did it at the onset to keep him with us awhile longer, but he's an old dog who has had a good life. We'd choose not to have him suffer more extreme trauma for our own selfish desire to have him with us for what we know will be a short time at best.

If we can do this for a beloved pet, why not people? I'd like to think, and I believe statistics from Oregon would bear me out, abuse has been rare if at all. Fearing all the "what ifs" does little but upset for unsubstantiated reasons.

This ties into the point, too, that we are dealing with adult human beings here who should be allowed to make decisions for themselves to leave this world with dignity and without pain.

It also ties into the poll about government legislating the fight against obesity. While death with dignity, with the proper, enforceable safeguards in place, is good legislation, trying to legislate obesity is big brotherism several steps too far. Again, we're dealing with human beings here. We may make the wrong choices for ourselves but to legislate removal of that right could lead to an expansion of government in our lives that would strip us of everything that makes living livable.

The worst part about government intervention in our lives is the government itself - made up of humans that supposedly have the ability to think things through and make good decisions. Look at them at work today. Is there any one of them that can make the decision for you better than you can make it for yourself? I won't even ask you to look at how many of those law makers are obese by today's medical standards.

So there is good legislation and bad, too much government intrusion versus some long overdue. The safety net, I would suggest, is the people we put into office to make those decisions. There are times we do a pretty poor job of "vetting" them!


Anonymous said...

While I am not a Libertarian by any means, still I would like the government to stay out of my personal business. Most especially stay out of my medical/quality of life decisions. Nobody could possible "mess up" as well as govts. do. Somebody I never met and never will meet is to decide what my passing should be. I think not. As for obesity, legislate peoples weight, absurd. And I might point out that Ted Kennedy has for many years met the criteria for morbidly obese. A story, compatible with this blog, that you may have missed in todays Press stated that the state of Idaho is considering legislation to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if those prescriptions are contrary to their beliefs. Say what?? Some pharmacist is going to overide the decision my physician has made. Where oh where has common sense gone??

As for vetting candidates, sadly "we" don't vet them, we allow the media to do so.

Having also been down that road six times, I agree with your decision about Bacchus. True love and devotion considers what is best for the pet, not the person. Not only do I think that it does not get easier, indeed I believe each one is harder. CU

Word Tosser said...

The death by dignity.... I don't know if I would use it or not... but I would like to know I have the option. As a person who worked in a nursing home and saw a great deal of pain. Yes there is a lot of new meds out there. But then you chose between living if you want to call it that.. of being like a zombie or in great deal of pain. I want to make my own choice. I want an option.
The other part I have not heard anything about it, even in Oregon, is how does life insurance treat death with dignity? Will they still pay off to the spouse, if the Dr. says that death is coming anyway, or will they consider it suicide? As suicide cancels out the life insurance.

And what happens to us making our own choices and if we failed... we failed. While failure is not the most pleasant outcome, we learn thru failure.

Margie's Musings said...

We have been wondering the same thing about Slinky. He is 12 years old and is doing fine but he spends an awful lot of time sleeping. If Bob didn't take him for a walk, he wouldn't do anything like that.

The time will come when he will either get sick or perhaps just not wake up one day. If he gets sick, should we try to save him when he's so old?

I don't know. I will be heartsick to lose him but when it's time, it's time.

cconz said...

I agree with you on making my own choice on how i want to end it. naturally or with alittle help. I had read in past papers (some years ago) "man, wonders outside and is found dead. cause exposure to the elements. Now the nursing homes are so LOCK DOWN there is'nt a way out. A friend of mine's dad tried to kill himself in the home with a plastic bag. They transfered him to a high security home. How sad!! With my kids, i just hope they die in their sleep. They never do.

Dogwalkmusings said...

You're right. They never do. Yet I keep hoping...

John Dwyer said...

I completely agree with your position. In fact, although the subject is seldom discussed, I have never met a person that does not feel adults should be left alone to make this decision. Why is it that the politically correct thing is apparently the opposite??