Ruth Hendershott: Life is precious
March 14, 2019
When I read in our paper that the medical staff of Memorial Regional Health was asking its board to change its position of being against aid in dying to being neutral, I had to respond. It is an issue that is heavy to me. I hope that our hospital will choose to remain against this policy.
I realize it is legal in our state, but is it right? I believe it is not. Doctors are meant to heal and help. I did not form this opinion arbitrarily. I have watched loved ones die. While it is a painful experience, it aids in my own grief to know that I loved them by showing care and concern and trying to make them as comfortable as possible. A person who chooses death before it happens naturally forfeits the possibility and gives up hope of a cure or the discovery of a new medication that might improve their situation.
I do not relish pain and suffering for anyone, but I know from the lives of others who have endured horrendous things that good things come from such hardship. To choose aid in dying is to deny yourself, your loved ones, and the world of learning from and benefitting from your story of pain.
Joni Tada broke her neck as a teenager and wanted to die when she learned she would be permanently paralyzed. If aid in dying had been offered to her, she might have taken it. But Joni learned to paint with her mouth and has blessed the world with her art work and also by her efforts to provide wheelchairs to impoverished people around the world.
My dad suffered a permanent brain injury at age 53 that left him unable to care for himself. I do not understand why God allowed him to live another 17 years in that condition. He wanted to die and said so frequently, but his hardship gave our whole family a testimony to declare all the many ways God provided and cared for us through it.
This whole issue of aid in dying brings up another area I feel reveals the hypocrisy of those in the medical field that support it. I was told many years ago by a doctor that a loved one of mine had a potentially fatal disease. That disease was bipolar/major depression. How many times have I heard from medical professionals this condition compared to diabetes or cancer? Countless. You go to the doctor and get treated for these others diseases so there is no shame in seeking medical help for mental health concerns. I do agree with that. But the analogy breaks down when you enter a conversation on aid in dying.
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It is showing respect to the sick individual who wants to end their life if it is cancer or some other terminal illness. But whole seminars are created to offer help and hope to the person who has lost all hope of ever being free of their suicidal thoughts. Life is precious. All life.
Ruth Ann Hendershott