January 24, 2012

Compassion in short supply

I watched a poignant documentary yesterday called "How to die in Oregon". It is about the law passed there that allows those with incurable diseases (late stage cancer, ALS, liver failure, etc.) access to a prescription cocktail that ends their life. It is a law that offers those with less than 6 months to live the choice to exert some final control over their bodies. I think it shows true compassion and applaud Oregon for having the courage to pass it. [Incidentally, the law has been held up by Oregon Supreme Court.]

I've always thought it peculiar that people have no qualms about euthanizing an animal that is toward the end of it's life, suffering in pain or has a poor quality of life. They base the decision on what is best for the animal, not on what is best for them. And yet those same people expect humans to let "nature take its course" even if that means the person declines over several months, is in constant uncontrollable pain, becomes incontinent, or is there in body only (i.e. mentally gone). What dignity is there in suffering like that? Shouldn't we have the same compassion and empathy for each other as we do for animals?

There is no shame in offering the dying a humane choice.
Death with Dignity, National Center

"How to die in Oregon" documentary

"The end is near" from the Washington Post Magazine (1/22/12)