My Turn: Lawmakers should pass ‘death with dignity’ bill

For the Monitor
Published: 1/7/2020 6:00:44 AM
Modified: 1/7/2020 6:00:12 AM

A recent column, wonderfully written, described the growing utilization of hospice and palliative care by families and individuals in New Hampshire (Monitor Forum, Dec. 26).

The unique services they offer have become well known for helping many people navigate their challenging end-of-life experiences. The column relevantly mentions that the “death with dignity” concept was introduced in the 1960s, which inspired the hospice care movement.

Indeed, death with dignity is a movement that is growing across the nation as individuals are looking for more autonomy and choice at the end of their lives when suffering from a terminal illness. The national trend indicates that people want additional tools available to them, beyond and to augment hospice and palliative care.

Currently, there are nine states (including the District of Columbia) that have adopted medical-aid-in-dying statutes modeled after the nation’s first Death with Dignity Act in Oregon. This growing movement affirms the concept that it is a basic human right of each individual to have dominion over their end of life and have assurance that their final wishes will be followed, will be legal and will be accessible. Studies have shown that people who have decided to pursue medical-aid-in-dying feel a great sense of control and peace in their last days of life, which, otherwise, would not be the case.

Death is a certainty; it will happen to 100% of us. None of us know when or how. Most people, when asked, want to feel in control right to the end and be able to die on their own terms. Our neighboring states, Vermont and Maine, have adopted death with dignity statutes and it is now time for New Hampshire to give terminally ill residents dignity and control over the end of their lives.

A New Hampshire death with dignity bill, HB 1659, will be introduced for the coming session on Jan. 8. Once introduced, the bill’s status can be followed at gencourt.state.nh.us or on the nhdeathwithdignity.org website.

If you support this option for terminally ill, competent adults, please urge your representation to support HB 1659.

As the Maine Supreme Court wrote in 1987: “right of self-determination in matters of health care to be essential to the integrity and dignity of his person.”

(Cheri Bach lives in Portsmouth.)




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