Monday, July 14, 2008

Should I have Died?

This is an excellent article by William Atwell and his response to Initiative I-1000 the initiative to legalize "Oregon Style" assisted suicide in Washington State.

What is so captivating about Atwell is the personal nature of his suffering, and yet he gives us all hope. If I-1000 is approved in Washington State, people who suffer, as Atwell suffered, will often "choose" to die based on a misguided mercy.

We need to care for people not kill them.

Should I Have Died?
by William Atwell

During certain stages of my life I have suffered serious depression from a deadly disease. Having endured treatments and surgeries from being diagnosed with cancer twice in my life by the age of 20 years old, I can tell you exactly what grief and despair are all about. It is important for me to qualify myself because I am concerned about an initiative called I-1000 that is gaining steam in Washington State. The initiative will be placed on the November ballot that would make assisted suicide a legal practice. There are various religious justifications for why I appose this legislation, but I have sufficient grounds to make this claim from a position of pure reason as well.

The primary reason I oppose I-1000 is because I have experienced tremendous pain while undergoing my cancer treatments. I endured endless chemotherapy which caused me constant nausea, vomiting of blood for days (literally), exhaustion, a loss of 25 pounds per week during treatment, and an utter lack of hope. My physical condition played a major role in my desire to end everything. During a particularly difficult moment in the hospital I told my father and mother, “I just want to die. I just want it to be over.” I meant every word of it.

Proponents of this legislation say, “Oh no! We don’t want just anyone to have the option, only people who are terminally ill.” They are lying. If you look at Oregon or the Netherlands (beacons of hope for those who want pesky sick people out of their way) they both began with similar pieces of legislation and are now furthering their movement to expand this “freedom” to anyone in too much pain to tolerate. Seattle Times reporter Carol M. Ostrom stated, from an interview with ex-Governor Booth Gardner, “Gardner says he'll push to go beyond the Oregon law, which allows doctors to prescribe lethal medication patients must take themselves. He wants a law like the 1991 initiative, which would have allowed doctors to give lethal injections to patients.”

How strategic groups like the Death with Dignity National Center are when they display pictures on their website of smiling, peaceful faces—not of a doctor pumping deadly medication into the body of a patient or handing them a virtual cyanide tablet. Picture this as well: a 16-year-old cancer patient with a 14 inch incision down his abdomen, coughing so hard from the fluid in his lungs that the incision oozes blood. He feels his stitched abdominal muscles and tissue tear with each heave. He screams in pain but the doctors can not stop the coughing, because his lungs need to be relieved of the fluid. Would he be a good candidate to ask, “Would you like me to end this pain for you?” That picture was my reality in 2002. Now I am a college senior, a college athlete, and a cancer survivor. How many cancer survivors will exist if those in pain are given a quick way out?

My points are simple: (1) do not be deceived by assisted suicide proponents when they say they will be satisfied with assisted suicide for the terminally ill, when in fact they want to exploit people when they are in serious pain, sickness, and depression. (2) do not let the pictures of smiling elderly people and others give you a different mental image of assisted suicide than what it really is: the putting down of the useless in the name of “freedom.”

I disagree with I-1000 because of its inherent problems and the fact that it will segue the path for other “death bills” that continue to degrade the moral fabric of this country. All life has value. Let us not humiliate our sick by offering them what they so dearly want, but asking them to suffer an alternative sacrifice they are in no position to give: their lives.

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