Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dan Savage: In Defense of Dignity

Anyone who reads this and remained unmoved is a cad.

Suddenly, the doctor was at the door to my mother's room again. He waved me out into the hall. He needed a medical directive. Immediately. Her vital signs were tanking. If we were going to put a tube in her, and put her on machines that could breathe for her, it had to be now. Right now. So it fell to me to walk back into my mother's room...(and) tell her she was going to die..."
The piece to which I've linked is Savage's exhortation to the voters of Washington State to vote in favor of a proposition to allow assisted suicide for the terminally ill, a so-called "death with dignity" initiative. He just watched his mother die of pulminary fibrosis a couple of months ago, so he's in a position to know what he's talking about.

And the Catholic Church and other life-at-all-costs organizations are fighting it. This line captures all my libertarian sensibilities perfectly:
"The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don't approve of abortion? Don't have one. Don't approve of gay marriage? Don't have one. Don't approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ's sake, don't have one. But don't tell me I can't have one—each one—because it offends your God.

"Fuck your God."
Or, if you like, fuck your idea of what you think God wants.

This is especially heart-wrenching to me because of my own mother's situation. She's in a nursing home, in stable health, but with a degenerative condition that will never allow for improvement. And I think about how she will die constantly. How will I react when/if I am someday put into this position? How long will I be able to "hold it together" to make the decisions that can only be made once and had best be made correctly?

I don't know.

All I know is, my heart goes out to Savage and his family.

HT: Pharyngula
Update: Savage has more here. Reader reactions and their own heart-rending stories here.

1 comment:

Kris said...

I am SO not a cad. And I love the Dan Savage sensibilities.

Watching my grandfather die, and being in the room when he did pass, has made me acutely aware of the significance of this fight. He had the opportunity to end his dialysis and die peacefully. To have to fight that and watch him die in bits would have been excruciating, both for him and for those who love him. I will never understand legislated "morality" but this takes the cake. A choice like this is certainly between and individual, their loved owns and their sense of a higher power. No where should there be a legal mandate that assumes to know better.

Thanks for sharing this.