Sunday, March 1, 2015

Maggie Karner: Assisted Suicide Would Undermine My Cancer Battle

Maggie Karner, who is living with the same medical condition as Brittany Maynard had, wrote an article that was published in the Hartford Courant titled: Suicide Option Would Undermine My Cancer Battle. Karner, who lives in Bristol Connecticut opposes assisted suicide and the assisted suicide bill that is being debated in the Connecticut legislature.
Maggie Karner in Hawaii in 2009

Karner first comments on assisted suicide and her medical condition:
I have been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer — a glioblastoma. Because of my diagnosis, I would likely be eligible for the state's help to commit suicide under a bill before the General Assembly — and that is terrifying. 
Like many Connecticut residents, I have wondered whether I would want my doctor to offer suicide as a treatment for deadly cancer. The out-of-state proponents of the bill regarding physician-assisted suicide suggest having the ability to end your life legally is comforting. But I can tell you from personal experience that it is nearly as troubling as the cancer itself. 
You see, I get strength and comfort from the knowledge that nobody is going to give up on me — medically, psychologically or holistically. Right now, I have the firm support of the state and my fellow citizens in my desire to live — no matter the cost or burden. If that were to change, the tiny knowledge that I might be straining my family, friends, doctors or community resources unnecessarily would be a heavy burden. The constant "option" for suicide would wear at my resolve and I fear, become an unspoken "duty" for me and others.
Maggie then comments on the Oregon assisted suicide law:
In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, the top reasons people give for wanting a deadly prescription are fear of losing autonomy (91.5 percent), fear of being less able to engage in activities (88.7 percent) and fear of loss of dignity (79.3 percent). These are not good enough reasons to upend the medical axiom of "first, do no harm."
Karner then comments on the Connecticut situation:
In 2014, Connecticut legislators enacted a pilot program regarding medical orders at the end of life. These forms, given to medical and hospital personnel, declare in advance the level of intervention a person wants when receiving emergency or end of life care. To build on these efforts and provide laws that will actually help the most people, our legislators should increase awareness and access to hospice and palliative care, double funding for home health care and their aides (more jobs!) and require mandatory training for doctors on pain management techniques. 
These measures would help many more hundreds and thousands of Connecticut people rather than undercutting the care and security of people like me who are fighting for their lives.
Karner concludes her article by arguing for compassionate care and not assisted suicide.
For me, this is a very personal fight. I find that my ongoing battle against aggressive glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer does not define who I am as a person, but instead provides me opportunities to share with others the innate value that every person can bring to society — whether infirm or able. My brain may be cancerous, but I still have lots to contribute to society as a strong woman, wife and mother while my family can daily learn the value of caring for me in my last days with compassion and dignity. 
I encourage the caring voters of Connecticut to once again contact their state legislators and insist that assisted suicide has no place in our state of independent thinkers. Slogans of "right to die" are just words to people like me who need your constant and continued support to avoid a "duty to die."
Thank you Maggie.

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