Letter to the Editor: Death with dignity movement gains momentum


Religiously inspired, nonsensical fundamentalist rhetoric notwithstanding, the death with dignity movement is gaining nationwide and worldwide attention and as a result is gaining significant momentum.

In the United States, physician-assisted death is legal in Oregon, Vermont, Montana,and Washington State. In New Mexico, a judge ruled that in at least one county physician assisted death is legal. And in New Jersey, the State Assembly, by a vote of 41-31, passed the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. It now goes to the Senate.

Outside of the United States, aid in dying is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Switzerland. In Canada, the Quebec Province passed the Respecting End of Life Care Act by an overwhelming 94-22 vote. And in Argentina, a country that is 76 percent Catholic, the Dignified Death Law passed by a vote of 55-0 despite opposition from the Catholic Church.

Not all religious leaders oppose death with dignity laws. In Cape Town, South Africa, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu came out in favor of assisted dying should one become terminally ill or suffer unbearable pain.

As my favorite “philosopher” Yogi Berra would say, this is deja vu all over again. The same vicious propaganda rife with misinformation and embellished to the point of lying has been used to oppose women’s suffrage, women’s right to choose, inter-racial marriage and gay marriage. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Given enough time, reason and compassion triumphs over rigid right wing ideology, political or religious, every time.

Finally, This is not just a matter of respecting a person’s dignity, it is, as in the case of the above mentioned human rights issues, a matter of choice. A person has the right to die in a manner and at a time of his or her choosing. Derek Humphrey, co-founder of the Hemlock Society and author of the “Final Exit” put it ths way: “Each person deals with death in their individual way. Which way is determined by their health, their ethics, and personal living conditions.”

Gene Rigelon, Front Royal

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