Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Remember the Terry Schiavo debacle? Where Trent Lott got up and said any rogue Judge would be investigated? Or how about the emergency session that was called by Congress in order to enforce an order for Terry Shiavo's feeding tube to be reinserted so she could be kept alive?

Where were these same Congressmen (it's safe to say men since, afterall, that's who it was) when 11year old Haleigh Poutre was severly beaten with a baseball bat to her head, thrown down the stairs and/or beaten with closed fists in November 2004? She's been on life support since without any hope of awakening to the life she had before this "incident."

Her stepfather has been trying to gain custody of Haleigh, claiming he is the de facto parent, and aruges that keeping her alive is in her best interest.

The thing is, if Haleigh dies, he will thus be charged with murder.

Thank heavens the Massachusetts high court recognized this fact, stating "that Strickland could not prove that his role in Haleigh's life was 'of a loving or nurturing nature, or even that it was beneficial to the child.'

As some of you may know, this case was decided in the midst of Oregon's Right to Die law that was just upheld by the SCOTUS. Haleigh has already suffered enough, why keep it going? The point of Right to Die laws mean a person gets to choose how they want to die when faced with a terminal illness, or, as in Haleigh's case, no chance of ever waking out of her persistent vegitative state.

A right to die with dignity and respect, instead of throwing up black char because it's all that's left in your body, is as much a case of bodily autonomy as is a woman's right to choose (in my opinion anyway).

But I suppose opposers to abortion and right to die laws are consistent in that they don't think any one person has the right to decide what is best for their own bodies and families.

Supporters of right to die laws, such as myself, believe an individual should be able to choose how they get on this earth and how they leave it. Having had the experience of watching a few men die of AIDs related illnesses, it's not at all enjoyable to watch someone slowly die an often painful death. I remember that B. began to show signs of dementia the sicker he got (which also happened to be as he neared death). That is hard for people to both cope and deal with while they are watching and/or taking care of someone who is dying.

It can also be hard for the person who is dying to watch her family take care of her and there is nothing she can do about it. There are times when it can get so bad, caregivers and those needing the care alike pray for a quick, silent death so as not to suffer anymore.

For me, the bottom line is that I would love to be able to choose when and how I die, but I do realize I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and die instantly. In that case, I at least get the how (fast) but not the when (when I'm 101 would be nice). I am a DNR yet I also understand that piece of paper doesn't matter when your partner or family wants to keep you alive. If I were to ever end up in a persistent vegitative state, I don't want to be kept alive for the sake of others.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian was the man who brought dr. assisted suicide into mainstream focus. Since then, several others have taken steps to offer the same practices to their community. And I believe it's a good thing.