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Dear Human Rights Committee,

Who are you to say how a person lives out the last of their days? The Death

with Dignity Act, which allows terminally-ill patients to end their lives through the voluntary
self-administration of lethal medications, prescribed by a physician for that purpose of ending
ones life. Critics feared that poor people would be pressured into killing

themselves because they or their loved ones could not afford end of life care.
Demographics of patients who have received the prescription drugs to end
their lives are surprisingly different than expected. The patients are
overwhelmingly white, well- educated and financially comfortable. They do
not come to the choice of suicide because they are in pain, but because they
want the same control over their death that they have had over their lives. I
am coming to you not only as a health care professional but also as someone
who has watched two family members slowly succumb to their ailments. I
watched my grandmother suffer with congestive heart failure all my life and
later lung cancer and then watched her slowly drown in her own body fluids. I
also watched my dad slowly loose his independence and dignity for 6 months
with terminal cancer. The last two months of both their lives were filled with
countless doctor appointments, pointless tests that did nothing but confirm
what we already knew.
Legalizing physician assisted suicide or euthanasia, some argue, would
not benefit only those who eventually made use of these procedures; it
would also provide psychological comfort or reassurance to millions of

other Americans, who would know if they were dying and things got really
bad, they could end their lives. Providing the terminally ill with
compassionate care and dignity is very hard work. It frequently requires
monitoring and adjusting pain medications, the onerous and thankless task
of cleaning people who cannot control their bladders and bowels, and
feeding and dressing people when their every movement is painful or
difficult. It may require agonizing talks with dying family members about
their fears, their reflections on life and what comes after. Ending a patients
life by injection, with the added solace that it will be quick and painless, is
much easier than the constant physical and emotional care.
Dr. Richard Wesley has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This
incurable disease lays waste to muscle and leave the mind intact. He lives
with the knowledge that an untimely death is chasing him down but takes
solace in knowing that he can decide exactly when, where and how he will
die. I dont know if Ill use the medication to end my life, Wesley said. But I
do know that it is my life, it is my death and it should be my choice.
Ultimately it is the patients right to choose how they die. Because a person is
a doctor it does not give them a right to decide on what is right for their
patients, it is the patients choice to seek treatment or to suffer with their
disease. If a patient is of sound mind and they fully understand what choices
they have, who are we as a society to tell them they do not have the right to
make their own choices. We choose to euthanize our animals if they are sick
or are suffering. As human beings we have a voice, we know right from

wrong. We have a choice to die with dignity in our own homes as we so