Deminski: NJ doctors should not help patients end their lives
It's a tough question. Should a New Jersey doctor be allowed to help a terminally ill patient die? That's a question Trenton lawmakers are dealing with Thursday. The Assembly is planning a vote. The bill is called the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. Some of the particulars are that the patient would have to have an irreversible illness and a life expectancy of less than six months. If they meet that criteria, they could get a doctor's prescription for a medication that, when taken, will end their life.
Proponent Assemblyman John Burzichelli says, "We do not do this recklessly. This is not done with a blink of an eye." He points out that a timeline would be established involving multiple requests and multiple witnesses.
Opponent Assemblyman John DiMaio has personal reasons. He watched his mother-in-law die of cancer. He says she rallied several times and had bad days and good days. "In that period of time, she could have said, 'Ah, I'm gone.' But during the summer there were many days she was at the pool, in the pool - living life."
This is one of the hardest questions any of us let alone any lawmaker might have to answer. I fully respect both sides on this. In the end, I have an issue with doctors dealing in facilitating death. Cottage industries cropping up would be disturbing. There are other ways to handle this even if not pretty, sanitary ways. Patients are already allowed to opt out of medical treatment. They are also allowed to opt out of receiving food or drink. Yes, I understand a quick pill that shuts you down in sedate manner seems prettier and simpler. But I also feel, as horrible as it may sound, that death shouldn't necessarily be so easy, pretty, and simple, if only to not whitewash the enormity of the decision.
In a state that doesn't even believe you should have the right to choose pumping your own gas, it seems curious to me that we would consider a right to choose to die. And actually, you have that choice already. But this is not about suicide. Physician assisted suicide is an oxymoron. Suicide involves one's self. It should not involve a doctor. If we were to instead call it physician assisted homicide, this idea would lose a lot of support.
I know what suffering is. I've seen my grandmother die of multiple myeloma. I watched my father die of an incurable brain tumor. I know people like to talk about death with dignity regarding this issue. As if fighting your way through the disease, enduring the pain and the changes just to get a few more weeks with your family is somehow undignified. To be honest I can't think of a much more noble or dignified fight than that.
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