Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not comfortable with assisted suicide in Washington State

This letter was published on June 24 in the Burlington County Times in New Jersey.

My husband and I operate two elder care facilities in Washington, where assisted suicide is legal.Our law was passed by a ballot measure in November 2008. During the election, the law was promoted as the 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 toward our typically elderly clients, to eliminate their choices.

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 he wanted to die. At that time, our assisted-suicide law had not yet gone in effect. The father died before the law went into effect.

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 family member in charge of the client's 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 want to be cared for and have my choices respected. I, for one, am quite uncomfortable with these developments.

Elizabeth Benedetto
Seattle Washington

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