This letter was originally printed on March 13 in the Montana Standard.
Don't make Washington's assisted-suicide mistake
My husband and I operate two adult family homes (elder care facilities) in
Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. I am writing to urge you
to not make Washington's mistake.
Our assisted suicide law was enacted by
a ballot measure in November 2008. During the election, the law was promoted
as a right of individual people to make their own choices. That has not been
our experience. We have also noticed a shift in the attitudes of doctors and nurses towards our typically elderly clients to eliminate their
Four days after the election, an adult child of one of our
clients asked about getting the pills (to kill his father). It wasn't the client saying that he wanted to die. At that time, our assisted suicide
law had not yet gone into effect. The father died before the law went into
Since then, we have noticed that some members of the medical profession are quick to bring out the morphine to begin comfort care without considering treatment. Sometimes they do this on their own without telling the client and/or the family member in charge of the clients care.
Since our law was passed, I have also observed that
some medical professionals are quick to write off older people as having no quality of life whereas in years past, most of the professionals we dealt with found joy in caring for them. Our clients reciprocated that
joy and respect.
Someday, we too will be old. I, personally, want to be
cared for and have my choices respected. I, for one, am quite uncomfortable
with these developments. Don't make our mistake.