This story hit my radar a year ago, thanks to an article on former Washington State governor, Booth Gardner.
[quote]"This will be my last campaign,” Booth Gardner said.
He has Parkinson’s. He was governor of Washington State for two terms in the 1980s and ’90s. He is 71, and his last campaign is driven by his desire to kill himself. “I can’t see where anybody benefits by my hanging around,” he told me, while his blond grandchildren, sticks prodding, explored the water’s edge.
“Why do this?” he asked, turning from the other tables toward me. “I want to be involved in public life. I was looking for an issue, and this one fell in my lap. One advantage I have in this thing is that people like me. The other” — his leprechaun eyes lost their glint; his fleshy cheeks seemed to harden, his lips to thin, his face to reshape itself almost into a square — “is that my logic is impeccable. My life, my death, my control.”
The campaign he was starting, when I spent time with him this summer and fall, goes by the name of “death with dignity,” and the statewide law he hopes to enact by popular vote on Election Day of 2008 would allow for “physician-assisted suicide” or, as the death-with-dignity movement prefers to call it, “hastened death” or “aid in dying.” The law would let doctors prescribe lethal doses of narcotics to terminally ill patients who ask to end their own lives. It would be modeled closely on a statute in Oregon, the only state where the movement has been successful.
Yet the proposed law in Washington wouldn’t go far enough for Gardner. It wouldn’t include him. Parkinson’s isn’t terminal. The disease can leave the body trembling, contorted, rigid; it can rob the memory and muffle the voice; it can leave a person still and silent; but it doesn’t offer an end to its torture; it doesn’t kill. Gardner wants a law that would permit lethal prescriptions for people whose suffering is unbearable, a standard that can seem no standard at all; a standard that prevails in the Netherlands, the Western nation that has been boldest about legalizing aid in dying; a standard that elevates subjective experience over objective appraisal and that could engage the government and the medical profession in the administration of widespread suicide. What is unbearable? What level of acute or chronic physical pain would qualify? What degree of disability? Would physicians be writing suicide prescriptions for the depressed?
Gardner’s campaign is a compromise; he sees it as a first step. If he can sway Washington to embrace a restrictive law, then other states will follow.[/quote]
The initiative was approved yesterday.
I’m largely in favour of the law, though I have some sympathy with those who argue that our lives are not entirely our own. Curious as to how others see the issue.