Modern medicine prevents many premature deaths and dramatically extends human lives. This is wonderful, provided you remain healthy in body and mind. But it’s a dreary prospect for those in poor health. The drawbacks of prolonged morbidity are numerous and far-reaching:

1. Loss of dignity and autonomy as one descends into a state of infantile dependency.

2. Endless, pointless suffering.

3. Imposing a crushing financial burden on family members.

4. Ruining the careers, shortening the lives and damaging the mental and physical health of overburdened family caregivers.

5. Adding to an already unsustainable national debt.

6. Tying up health care resources better spent on the young.

7. Producing copious amounts of medical waste.

Self-directed suicide, while always an option, often leaves behind an unsightly, foul-smelling mess. Shocked and traumatized family members may avoid returning to the death scene (house, property, car), which has likely been transformed into an unsaleable asset. Worst of all, suicide attempts can fail, leaving the desperate individual maimed, paralyzed or brain damaged.

People should instead have the right to escape a burdensome existence peacefully and painlessly while surrounded by friends and family. A home visit from a trained euthanasia provider would be an ideal solution. Candidates would naturally need to be screened to see if the cause of their distress is temporary or potentially treatable. Counseling – including discussions of alternatives like hospice and palliative care – would be part of the process.

Mike Diamond

 Rock Island

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