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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 30, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity

This isn’t Monty Python

Radio advertisements featuring violins and reassuring words like dignity, safe and no mistakes, may cause us to lose sight of what Washington state’s “Death with Dignity” initiative is really all about.

Initiative 1000 legalizes killing sick people. The image of Monty Python’s medieval peasant exclaiming “I’m not dead yet” as he’s whacked on the head and thrown atop a pile of corpses comes to mind.

The proponents of I-1000 use great words, but sadly have no idea what they mean.

When it comes to the word “dignity,” the implied suggestion is that terminally ill people have already lost their dignity. But in truth, dignity does not come and go based on health and is certainly not found in suicide.

We are assured I-1000 is “safe,” but suggesting that the most vulnerable people in our society contemplate suicide is really the opposite of keeping people safe.

“No mistakes” refers to Oregon’s legislation and newest form of health care, which kills all its beneficiaries. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before an Oregon doctor makes a “mistake” and is hit with a wrongful-life lawsuit. Oregon’s law is the mistake.

— Christopher Larsen, SeaTac

Let this choice be personal

My father was a hero, a decorated Marine officer who fought through three amphibious landings in WWII. He struggled for his own survival and for the protection of the soldiers who surrounded him. He often wondered what made his own life so precious that the Lord had spared him in the midst of so much horrific death.

Yet there he was six months ago at his 90th birthday party, telling guests that they couldn’t leave without signing the petition for the Death With Dignity Initiative.

Why would a man so full of gratitude for the sanctity of life support such a thing?

Because by age 90 he’d seen so many friends and their families suffer heartbreaking illnesses. He agonized for those who suffered through that pain and fear all alone, without a family’s support. He saw how carefully the law was written to prevent abuse. It creates the right to a reasonable choice of how to deal with end-stage terminal illness.

And although my father died peacefully and naturally soon after turning 90, he supported the initiative because he thought he’d need it himself.

Plenty of voices clamor to tell us this is wrong. For example, the archbishop found it in his heart to publish a four-page newsletter with all the associated costs to his flock for publication and mailing — every word harped against I-1000. He then had the gall to claim “I am not telling you how to vote …”

Please.

It’s a lie to claim you’re not telling me how to vote. It’s hypocrisy to use the church’s righteous power and money only against this issue of personal choice. Lies and hypocrisy will always work in politics, but the truth of I-1000 goes far beyond politics and directly to the heart of our own lives and our precious loved ones.

Patients and their families who bravely choose to endure long illnesses, full of hope and faith to the final breath, deserve our respect, admiration and support. But their struggles should not be forced on others who wish to have the right, through their own prayerful consideration, to decide otherwise.

People deserve a choice, and I-1000 is crafted with the care and dignity that gives us all that choice.

— Bill Walker, Bothell

Comments | More in Health care, State initiatives

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