Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dignified Death

The highly respected British conductor Edward Downes has committed suicide with his terminally ill wife at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. Their son and daughter issued a statement that they "died peacefully, and under circumstances of their own choosing." Downes was 85, almost blind, and well on his way to being deaf. She was 74 and terminally ill with cancer. They were assisted in a comfortable room with beds close together allowing them to hold hands as they peacefully lost consciousness after taking a fatal dose of barbiturates under medical supervision.

Unless violence or a sudden death take us out first, we are all going to fall apart until we cease to function. Some apparently have intense feelings opposing the ability to control how this occurs and in particular, to choose when to check out. Remarkably, these folks are often those who claim to be all about individual freedom and liberty. I'd like to see a world where anyone whose health has declined to where life only prolongs suffering has the choice, and the key word is choice, to enter a clinic where trained professionals can help. Nodding off and not waking up is easier on the kids than eating a Smith & Wesson.

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