Monday, October 5, 2015

A New Law

This afternoon, the governor of California signed a right-to-die bill into a law.  It's not the first bill of its kind to be proposed, but the others never made it past the legislature.  It is said that Britney Maynard's move from California to Oregon last year in order to end her life after being diagnosed with brain cancer inspired this most recent bill.
My brain knows this is a law that allows a person to go out on their own terms and not have to suffer the pain and indignities of a terminal illness.  It is an important law, and I am pleased to be living in a state who has decided that this isn't a decision for anyone else to make except for the terminally ill patient along with their doctors and family.  No one else should have any say.  Logically it makes sense, however it is also a heart wrenching law - a law that I'm not sure I'd take advantage of.  While I can rationalize that if I were in this position it would be what was best for both me and my loved ones, I can't imagine what it would be like to say, "it's time" either.  And if a loved one was in the position to make that decision for themselves, well it makes me sick to my stomach just imagining it. Deciding to euthanize my dog a few years back messed me up big time and still creeps back up on me every-so-often, and that was a dog.
Of course, we all hope this will never happen to us, but if it were to I'm sure there is relief in knowing an end to the suffering was in sight if that choice was made.


  1. Wilfred, my ex's dad was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. And because of his age was the fast progressing type. He decided to push the button. His friend from the choir set up the system for him. He was a staunch Catholic, which had me a bit stumped at his decision but he didn't want his wife to have to deal with him getting locked in and without control of his body. My own father had died the previous year but while we were able to help each other somewhat, the processing of his decision was one of the things that split us. You get the reasoning in your mind, but not in your water.
    One of the things that has me worried about such laws is abuse within families. This can be an opening for true viciousness.

    1. I remember you mentioning this on Kelly's blog awhile back. It's a lot to wrap your mind around and having been personally involved, I would imagine even more so. There's a lot to process after a loved one's death after "regular" circumstances - if you can call it that. It would seem that this would add a level that the rest of us wouldn't understand. I've thought about it a lot the last couple of days for no other reason than this law has put it on my mind, and it makes me a little sick to my stomach thinking about. Your point of reasoning vs. make up is exactly why.
      I was reading a bit more about it and a lot of those against the law bring up concerns about insurance companies taking advantage and killing people off. I'm not so convinced about that, but I can see where families are concerned it can get pretty nasty. The law, as far as I can tell, will require the patient to be mentally competent and take the lethal medication themselves, I would imagine in hopes of alleviating that concern. Are there ways around that? Maybe.

    2. I'd say the story told in Wilfred's family was that he was the strong one. And I think this played into his thinking. I don't think he was allowed to be weak. That I don't think is the best thing for the family he leaves behind for the last leason a parent can give, to be strong because the strong one is now weakened is never forced upon the child/adult.
      But how would you allow for that, you can't in these laws. And how could you say something like ALS, because the person is sharp as a tack is allowable while something prolonged and chronic but drains the intellect isn't.
      And on that tack, given the requirement of 'by ones own hand'. What about those that haven't the ability to press a switch.

    3. Yah, the "ones own hand" made me wonder how that would work for someone who may have the mental capacity to make the decision but not the physical capabilities to follow through. Trying to alleviate the fears of someone taking advantage of a sick loved one during this time, it would seem as if it may be tying the hands while trying to make it legal at the same time.
      My dad was quite similar in needing to be in charge and the "strong" one for the family. I think maybe that's why I'm "obsessing" over it. Had he had a terminal illness, my family may have been in a very similar situation. He would not have wanted us to see him in any type of helpless condition, and he'd have wanted to have control over the situation.
      Whew, I would imagine it's just an overwhelming decision.

  2. Definitely a topic on which I have mixed emotions and for a wide range of reasons. It's easy to take a stance, but until we're truly faced with a situation of our own, I'm not sure we ever really know what we'd do. Both of my parents died of cancer at a young age. However, one grandmother lived to be 100 and several other relatives well into their 90s... yet without their mental faculties. None of those situations were quality living. But who makes that call?

    I'm a firm believer of palliative care and volunteer regularly at my local hospice (on the administrative side, but I still have contact with the "patient" side). As part of our continuing in-service training, I watched a new video not long ago entitled "New Rules". It did an excellent job of describing the last "phase of life" and how it should be approached. There no reason a person has to be in pain, or even drugged out of their mind at the end.

    Anyway... like some other "button-pushing" topics (abortion, marijuana laws, etc.), there's a part of me that has trouble with the Federal government trying to legislate certain things, no matter whether I "approve" the issue or not.

    1. Let me state one more thing about palliative care before I step down from my soapbox...

      Too many people don't call hospice soon enough. It's not meant for just the last couple of days. I've actually known of cases where a person was placed under hospice care, yet went into remission and was able to be removed from it. Just because you contact the hospice folks doesn't have to mean you've given up and expect to die immediately. They actually offer many services to both the patients and their families.

      Okay. I'm done now. :)

    2. I know that things like that being a "law" does bring about concern. In my opinion, the law is there not so much to protect the one who is ill - because it sounds like if this is the decision that he/she makes it can happen and has been happening without the law for quite sometime. From my recent reading about it, it seems like the laws have been put in place in order to protect the families and/or doctors who otherwise might be in jeopardy of being charged with murder. And that makes some sense to me.
      I have three very dear friends who lost their fathers to cancer within the last year. And all three have said the patient care and support for the families were exceptional, which is good to hear. All three had a relatively short time between diagnosis and passing. My dad passed away suddenly with no warning. That was VERY hard in a lot of respects (tons of guilt, regret, what ifs), but it makes me glad for him that he didn't have to go through an illness like that. I can see where a decision like this one would be such a double edged sword for the patient and the family.