Going out with dignity

Sean South is the president of the Sacramento Valley chapter of End-of-Life Choices

Most people know of someone whose death lacked dignity and who seemed to suffer too much. We do not like talking about death, but it is our reality and something we must face. Technology has made it possible to keep people alive longer, but a true discussion about the quality of one’s life and how much suffering is enough has yet to take place. We need to ensure that our loved ones are treated with dignity.

End-of-Life Choices is working to make this our new reality. The group is a leading advocate for options in dying for the terminally ill. In addition to supporting appropriate pain and palliative care, Choices members vocally promote the right of individuals to hasten their death under careful safeguards. We support numerous efforts to allow individuals greater control concerning their death.

Our local chapter started last year to give the people of the Sacramento Valley an opportunity to have influence on these important issues. The Sacramento chapter is growing quickly and will be working hard in the next year to ensure that its voice is heard, through public education and also by the group’s sponsorship and support of legislation that will increase the rights of terminal patients.

The majority of people in this state believe that individuals should have the right to ask their physician to help them to die if they become terminally ill and are suffering, but our laws still make this humane act illegal. We need people who believe in this issue to work to make this right a reality.

The existence of this type of law in Oregon has shown unequivocally that it works well and serves the people who need it. In the last four years, fewer than 100 people each year have requested a physician’s evaluation so they could be prescribed the drugs that would end their lives. In addition, fewer than half of those who got the prescription used it to end their lives. Studies have found that once people know they have the option of control over the end of their life, many decide to die from their disease.

We need you to get involved in this issue. You can contact the Sacramento chapter of End-of-Life Choices by calling (916) 359-2706 or by e-mailing saceolc@hotmail.com.