This Difficult Choice Should Be Available

Sep 12, 2017

Every day we face numerous decisions. Some seem automatic like getting out of bed, turning on the radio, or checking our phones.

Then there are those big life decisions: choosing a partner or not, children or not, career paths. But when it comes to end-of-life decisions, many of us avoid drawing up a will, documenting burial or cremation preference, determining which (if any) life-support measures should be performed. 

These are really tough ones, but even tougher would be grappling with the choice of when and how we end our lives. I know someone with a debilitating and fatal disease who is confronting that decision.

An individual who has wholeheartedly embraced life and, within a short span of time, experiences rapid decline has to reckon with not only their own personal or spiritual beliefs but also family and societal pressures and stigmas, along with legal boundaries.

Only a few states have legalized physician-assisted suicide. While we move forward with research and aid-in-dying legislation, we also need to ensure that medical specialists who are treating the disease also refer their patients to palliative care physicians who are trained to help them navigate all their options.

I’ve seen the great courage it takes for a person to choose to end their life in this type of situation. I also recognize that it would take immense courage to endure a debilitating disease to the end. But, either way, I believe that a mentally competent individual should have that choice and deserves the best care possible along the way.

I’m Paula Garrett, and that’s my perspective.