This spring the Green Party of Delaware discovered a bill pertaining to the end-of-life options decision a terminal person may or may not decide to choose. Under current law, a terminal patient is left with only two choices: either decide to suffer, dwindling down to nothing while swimming in an ocean of pain and uncertainty, or, alternately, choose to end one’s life by suicide – a grizzly, gory, nasty decision that is not made with family members. It is often a shock and it negates any possibility of an insurance policy ever being paid out. This decision becomes a permanent, nightmarish memory leaving the family members who are left behind scarred forever.
Delaware House Bill 160 (the end-of-life options bill, which will be voted on after January 2018) will give terminal patients another option. House Bill 160 will allow terminal patients the option of choosing their end-of-life decision with their doctor. This means that they might obtain prescriptions that will send them into permanent slumber and will eventually stop their hearts, freeing them to die with dignity. Many accuse this bill of being an assisted suicide legislature, but this is not so. This will be an educated decision made between two doctors and family of the terminal patient. It will allow insurance companies to consider the fact that these patients were terminal, meaning that they were definitely going to die. The question becomes when and how they die.
Many tears will be shed, but they will be shed either way. This legislation will give terminal patients the opportunity to have a little bit of control where they have none. You might wonder why I find this issue so important? I am a terminal patient.
I’ve been diagnosed with a rare disease called SCA. SCA is a hereditary, degenerative, neurological condition; I will eventually die from complications like aspiration pneumonia. I will be completely aware of my body’s inability to perform the most basic functions, like bathing and eating. Ultimately, even talking will be impossible. I fear these final months the most. I will watch my loved ones cry for me. I’ll listen to hushed conversations about me from a tomb-like body.
There’s no cure for what I have. No miracle will save me. My only hope of not having to endure months of distress and being a constant burden to my family is the possibility to have a doctor help me to safely and painlessly go to meet my creator.
This summer, the Green Party of Delaware collected 280 signatures on a petition explaining why terminal patient’s rights are being infringed upon. The Green party of Delaware supports HB 160, and agrees that terminal patients’ inalienable civil rights need to be recognized by allowing them the freedom to choose their end-of-life options with the aid of their physician.
We recognize that advances in science have created medical interventions that often increase suffering and prolong the dying process. We believe in securing social justice for all people and so believe that citizens have the right to choose their end-of-life options. Medical aid in dying enables a mentally competent, terminally ill adult other options in the face of unbearable, inevitable suffering. We recognize that the choices a person makes at the end of life are inalienably grounded in that individual’s life experience and values.
In summation, the Green Party of Delaware is committed to supporting civil rights, which are protected under our constitution. I urge other Greens to begin inquiring about adopting end of life options legislation in your state. This isn’t about what you personally agree with: It’s about addressing terminal patients’ civil rights.
Dawn Lentz is a member of the Green Party of Delaware and the founder to the MOT Local of GPDE.