For the past two years I have been contacting my state legislators about the Medical Aid in Dying bill proposed for New York state. And for the past two years I have not been able to get an answer from either one on where they stand and why.
Being in a rural, conservative part of New York, they both appear opposed. But neither has been willing to state the precise reason for the objections.
Which makes sense. Because there are no non-religious objections. The New York bill is modeled after the Oregon bill and New Jersey bill, which just passed. The Oregon law has been in place for about 20 years and has had no complaints about abuse. These bills do not force anyone or any institution from participating in end of life assistance. They are careful to allow anyone with an objection not to be required to take part in any end of life actions. They protect everyone.
So any objections are primarily religious. And the bill takes those into consideration.
When I think about this issue 4 names come to mind. Bill, Margaret,Lucy and Zoey.
Bill was my father-in-law. He served in WW2 in the British air force before the US entered the war. Once the US entered he was transferred to the US military. After the war he came home and built a house. He started a business selling eggs door-to-door. Yes the Egg man. Goo goo ga-choob. And he was successful and raised a family. He liked the nice glass of wine and a pipe full of cheap tobacco.
It was probably the wine and pipe smoking that lead to his cancer. I think it was throat or esophagus. At any rate, he couldn’t eat . He refused to go to a hospital because he did not want to be kept alive artificially. He slowly starved to death, his wife feeding him morphine to ease the pain.
The last time I saw him he looked like an Auschwitz prisoner. All skin and bones. He was so light we were able to carry him. Like a living skeleton. A man who had fought in a war to free the world from Nazis ended up looking like a victim of the Nazis.
Margaret was my sister-in-law. She was only about 62 when she passed away. Like my father-in-law she also had some type of throat cancer. Since she lived in California I did not see her at the very end. But she also insisted on dying at home. She also starved to death.
She was an active, healthy woman of Dutch heritage. She was an airline stewardess who flew international flights. She raised two great kids . She did everything right. She took care of my brother. She starved to death.
I don’t know if Bill would have taken advantage of a Medical Aid in Dying law. He had no choice. I do know that Margaret would have done so. She expressed that she wished she was back in her native Netherlands where aid in dying was legal. She had no choice.
Which brings me to Lucy and Zoey. Our two dogs. we had them since they were puppies and as they got older and more infirm it became obvious that it was cruel to allow them to live in pain. It would be unconscionable to allow them to suffer. Inhumane.
First Zoey, then a few years later Lucy had to be “put down”. Our local kindhearted vet came to the home. I petted Zoey as Christine administered a shot to put Zoey to sleep. The, after she was unconscious, another shot to stop her heart. I felt the life drain out of her as she slowly became dead weight. A humane death. A death with dignity. A death without pain or suffering.
All I ask of the state of New York is this:
When my time comes, please “treat me like a dog.”