Willhite: End of life issues in Colorado (letter)
January 9, 2016
When a dying Coloradan has only months, weeks or days to live and cannot be cured, we should be able to honor their decision to end their pain and suffering and die peacefully at home. Compassionandchoices.org plans to introduce the 2016 Colorado End of Life Options Act. Most Coloradans support a choice for aid in dying and believe we should have the final choice. The Denver Medical Society states, "It is a doctor's duty to heal but there is a duty to relieve suffering."
Opponents often deploy misinformation and half truths to frighten people about aid in dying. Oregon's 18 years tell the real truth. None of the fears opponents have voiced have actually materialized. End of life has improved in large part because of improved dialogue between people, their doctors and caregivers. Hospice use and palliative care has increased. Oregon has the lowest death rate in hospitals, highest at home deaths in the nation and violent suicide among hospice patients has virtually disappeared.
The American Public Health Association and The American College of Legal Medicine reject the inaccurate terms of "suicide" or "assisted suicide" to the choice of mentally competent terminally ill patient to seek medications to bring about a peaceful and dignified death.
I have personally witnessed that modern medicine has limitations. Being an Anesthesiologist, I have witnessed far too many deaths in the impersonal environment of the hospital or ICU, without the peace and love of a family in their home environment.
I hope you will support this effort for yourself and all those you love. For more complete information, visit the website: compassionandchoices.org. There will be a presentation and discussion by Dr. Charlie Hamlin, on Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Breckenridge CMC campus.
Larry G Willhite
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