Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Twenty years ... and counting

The public's memory is notoriously short.  Which is why politicians get away with anything, for the most part.

Remember the Terry Schiavo tragedy in the public sphere?  It was awful.  Here was a young woman in an irreversible vegetative state for years, and Republican senators in DC adamantly stood against pulling her plug, in order to defend the sanctity of human life.  They were ok with wars and killing, prisons and killing, cops and killing, but no pulling the plug nor aborting fertilized eggs.  Nutcases!

Their leader at that time, Bill Frist, even made his own diagnosis--without having ever met the patient!  I tell ya, the GOP has been home to nothing but nutcases ever since that newt-led revolution in 1994.

Finally, after 15 years in a vegetative state, Schiavo died.  By then I was already an Oregonian.  And had already authored an op-ed on the state's Death With Dignity Act.  I wrote that in late 2002, soon after I moved to Oregon in response to the Bush administration's effort to overturn the Oregon law.  That effort was led by a religious fanatic John Ashcroft, who was the Attorney General.

The nutcase Republicans in DC gave it their best shot, but Oregon's law prevailed.  A couple of weeks ago, it was the law's 20th anniversary.
In Oregon, use of the law has steadily grown. Last year, it happened 133 times. Nearly 1,200 people have died using the law in the last two decades. A vast majority cited loss of autonomy as their main reason.
You remember how horrible it was before the Oregon law passed?  Like this one:
In 1990, a Portland woman, Janet Adkins, traveled to Michigan where Dr. Jack Kevorkian helped her use his lethal injection device in his Volkswagen van. Her death inflamed a national debate.
Kevorkian was later found guilty for his assistance in a number of cases.  He served time too, which is unfortunate. Almost nine years in prison, as an old man himself.  But, boy did he stand up for his beliefs!

I understand that not everybody will be ready to exit the planet as I am.  I love life. This existence is simply fascinating.  I hate the very idea that I will miss out on everything that I cherish.  But, like every saint and sinner who ever existed, I too will die.  A lonely event that will be.  Living like today could be the last day ever makes clear what my priorities are, how I should spend my time, and what I need to plan for.   Which is also why I don't have much in my bucket-list.

Here today, gone tomorrow! You should even think in terms of writing your own obituary.  At the very least, we could all benefit from having the most difficult conversations: Talk to the next of kin and make clear one's end of life choices.  After all, we talk shit all the time.  We have time for sports. We talk endlessly about the shittiest human ever in the White House.  We talk forever about the weather, for heaven's sake.  We definitely have time for this important conversation.

If you want some ideas on how to go about having such a talk with your people, check out the resources here.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the precious gift of life!


Ramesh said...

A very good post that I completely agree with.

Yes, I well remember the Schiavo case. But I am surprised that only 1200 people have used Orgeon's law in two decades. That's a tiny tiny fraction of the people who would potentially be the ones for whom that Act could apply. Why don't more people embrace it. Are we such a minuscule minority ? I cannot imagine any sane person saying he or she would wish to carry on living in a vegetative state. And yet ......

By the way, do you have to bring the idiot even to this well written post ?

Sriram Khé said...

The fact that only a few have used it says a lot about the law's success. The opponents (you know, the pro-life nutcase party!) claimed that the law would create hell ... instead, what the law does is perhaps more than anything re-assure the terminally ill that if they feel like they don't want to prolong the agony, they don't have to. Now, keep in mind that the person has to be in control, pass a psych evaluation, and have to self-administer the lethal dose. This is not an end-of-life directive that somebody else carries out. Your comment on people living in a vegetative state does not apply to the Death With Dignity Act. The two are completely different issues.

Yes, my life has been ruined. The asshole shows up practically in every serious thought that I have. So much so that I celebrate the moments that I have had when I have not been bothered by the shittiest human in the White House :(

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