Much more to medical aid in dying bill

May 26, 2023

I take issue with Daniese McMullin-Powell’s presumptions regarding the medical aid in dying/physician-assisted suicide bill (HB 140). She asserts that appropriate, multi-disciplinary care will treat effectively any patient who has experienced “loss of autonomy, decreasing ability to participate in life activities and loss of dignity.” What McMullin-Powell seems to be overlooking is that some patients who fit these criteria have also lost the desire to live. I believe it is these patients this bill is intended to help.

I would like to present an example of when physician-assisted suicide would be appropriate. My mother lived to be 88, and had a happy, productive, fulfilling life. That changed when her husband of 60 years died when she was 80. Mom lost her zest for life.

Life became more difficult when she suffered a stroke at age 83. Her right arm (dominant side) was paralyzed and her right leg was weakened, making balance and mobility major concerns. Mom participated in physical and occupational therapy, but therapists determined she would not improve. More disheartening to mom was that she would never be able to resume her favorite hobby, knitting.

Mom was no longer able to live independently because she could not perform activities of daily living or walk her beloved dog. We arranged for a live-in caregiver; that arrangement worked out for about two years. But mom’s condition deteriorated to the point that two caregivers would be needed to get her upstairs to the shower.

We made the decision to move mom to a skilled nursing facility. She received excellent care, and my sister and I visited daily, bringing along mom’s dog; these visits were the highlight of her day. Mom had no interest in participating in the social activities offered by the facility. She was always sad and dearly missed her husband. Many times mom said she was ready to die and that she wished God would take her.

On multiple occasions, mom said to me or my siblings, “Just take me out back and shoot me.” She wasn’t joking; she wanted to be put out of her misery. We talked about Dr. Jack Kevorkian (a euthanasia proponent), and mom said she wished he were around to help her. We also talked about Oregon legalizing physician-assisted suicide, and she said she wished Delaware offered it. We even visualized what it would be like to have a physician-assisted suicide, with the family at her bedside.

My reservation with HB 140 is that it only allows physician-assisted suicide when life expectancy is six months or less. In mom’s case, or other terminal cases, that might have been difficult to determine, though she would have welcomed a peaceful end much earlier than when it came. I am a strong supporter of medical aid in dying, and wish my mother had had the option to choose this way to fall asleep and not wake up.

Peggy Louie


  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

    To submit a letter to the editor for publishing, send an email to Letters must be signed and include a telephone number and address for verification. Please keep letters to 500 words or fewer. We reserve the right to edit for content and length. Letters should be responsive to issues addressed in the Cape Gazette rather than content from other publications or media. Only one letter per author will be published every 30 days. Letters restating information and opinions already offered by the same author will not be used. Letters must focus on issues of general, local concern, not personalities or specific businesses.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter