get it home page promo

Pros, cons voiced for doctor-assisted death options

2010-11-09T00:20:00Z Pros, cons voiced for doctor-assisted death optionsBy George Plaven, Montana Standard Helena Independent Record
November 09, 2010 12:20 am  • 

ANACONDA — Roberta King watched her father die over the course of 12 years.

Diagnosed with a form of leukemia, Bob Baxter knew he would never recover. He decided, instead, to pursue a physician-aided death and say goodbye on his own terms.

 The disease progressed and King, 48, said she began to understand. Now an advocate for physician-aided death, she spoke Monday at the Hearst Free Library in Anaconda to raise awareness of the issue.

Compassion & Choices, a national nonprofit that promotes physician-aided death as an option for terminally ill patients, hosted the presentation and public discussion.

King also explained a recent Montana Supreme Court ruling that upholds patients’ right to die if they are terminally ill, mentally competent and able to self-administer. It affirmed a 2008 decision by Judge Dorothy McCarter in Helena district court.

Baxter, of Billings, had been a plaintiff in that case. He died of lymphoma on Dec. 5, 2008, the same day Judge McCarter handed down her ruling.

King, the youngest of Baxter’s four children, told The Montana Standard she came to realize her father’s death wasn’t about her. It was about him.

“He should have had a choice,” King said. “Everyone should have that choice.”

About 10 people attended the presentation in Anaconda, asked questions and offered their own opinions.

Caroline Anderson, a 61-year-old registered nurse with the Community Hospital of Anaconda, said she lost her mother on Oct. 25 to lung cancer.

The death was painful, Anderson told The Standard, and a physician-aided death would have come as a benefit.

“It would have given (my mother) the ability to live better, knowing the end was when she chose,” Anderson said. “She could have died with dignity.”

Denyse Mazzolini, 64, offered an opposing view and said physician-aided death will open the door to too many other circumstances.

Mazzolini, a member of the Anaconda Catholic Community, said she believes in compassion and relieving a person’s pain as much as possible, but does not agree with any aid in suicide.

“I just don’t think it is right,” Mazzolini said. “No human being has the right to take their own life. It’s in the hands of God.”

Jessica Grennan, Montana Campaign Manager with Compassion & Choices, said they will give presentations in Sheridan and Townsend later this week.

The group wants to make sure it appears in smaller towns to answer questions and take away the taboo, Grennan said. She suggested people contact their local legislators to share their opinions on the subject.

 “No matter how you feel on this issue, it’s important we promote public dialogue,” Grennan said.

State Rep. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, plans to introduce a bill when the Legislature convenes in January that would codify the state Supreme Court decision.

State Sen. Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls, is also working on a bill that would counter the decision and ban physician-aided death in Montana.

-- Reporter George Plaven may be reached via e-mail at george.plaven@lee.net.

 

 

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Frederick
    Report Abuse
    Frederick - May 03, 2011 11:58 am
    "I believe that all humans have their own choice in what they do, not when god wants them to do"

    If they believe that they are in so much physical pain or with something that will kill them anyways then why not let them go the way that they want to go.
    Put yourself in their position and really think about what they are going though and wonder if that is what you want to go though. weather it is pain, aids or something else. Make a choice and think about it for a while. Because you may not have the same symptoms they do.
  2. Frederick
    Report Abuse
    Frederick - May 03, 2011 11:45 am
    AnimalLover said: "“No human being has the right to take their own life. It’s in the hands of God.”If you want to put things in the hands of a fairy tale please do so. In fact go all the way with it. Forgo all medications for blood pressure, diabetes pretty much anything small and trivial. After all didn't Santa, err god, give you those conditions. Who the F are you to try and control your imaginary beings decisions. You should also be forcing mothers to allow gestation to occur with no outside influence. If the child is born with any form of surgically repairable defect it should live or die by the hand of you loving god. Perhaps you sick people that believe in imaginary buddies should watch family members die, being eaten from the inside by cancer, going blind(Jesus didn’t come help my grandpa((yes he truly believed in praying))) and losing his feet from diabetes. See how that affects your blind faith, even though you’ll just pray harder while tubes are sticking in every hole to keep the corpse animated. On top of that, the tax payer can pick up the tab for all those tubes.Time to stop wasting resources on the weak, the old, the stupid, and the lazy. Once again, the government should not be in the business of keeping the weak alive. You bible thumpers should not be allowed to vote. Fairy tales don’t exist, and if they do, they sure as hell don’t give a damn about you. Now go pray for me."

  3. hotpepper
    Report Abuse
    hotpepper - November 09, 2010 4:38 pm
    I am going to have to side here with Mrs. Mozzolini. As a fellow Catholic I strongly believe in "natural life from the womb to the tomb" I do beleive in making those terminally ill and in severe pain comfortable. But to end have their life ended at the hand of someone else or themselves is just wrong. Life is precious. So to you Animal Lover call me a Bible Thumper or any other names you can think of, it will not bother me and yes, I pray for people like you (so will a lot of other people I know). By the way I voted. Guess what? RED prevailed. I am happy about that. So you beleive your way and I will beleive mine.
  4. Equal Justice
    Report Abuse
    Equal Justice - November 09, 2010 9:09 am
    It is clear and settled science that human nature tends to abuse the most vulnerable among us. The best way to protect the individual rights, independence and liberties of the elderly and the disabled of all ages is to keep assisted-suicide illegal here in Montana as it is in all healthy societies. We certainly should respect the individual's right to limit life support. We in Montana stand for equal rights, equal justice and equal protection under the law to protect our independence and individual rights from the seductive doctrines of “social justice”. The Montana mindset is to “keep it private” and “prevent abuse”. We already have the individual means of choosing advance directives to “pull the plug” that are complimented with medical-power-of-attorney along with superior palliative and hospice care to comfort end-of-life suffering along with the support of those around them. Let’s not be seduced and allow the selfish evolutionary desires of the socialist to trample the independence and individual rights of elders and disabled of all ages. Our individual rights end where another citizen’s rights begin! Say no to assisted-suicide and no to assisted-abuse. Confidently advise your legislator to “prevent abuse” and strongly support the Montana Patients Protection Act. I will!
  5. checolbar
    Report Abuse
    checolbar - November 09, 2010 8:53 am
    As I've written before on this subject, this is a VERY DANGEROUS slippery slope!
  6. remybon
    Report Abuse
    remybon - November 09, 2010 8:50 am
    well the argument that death is in the "hands of God", if a person would have died naturally earlier in life, but has had their life extended by devices such as pacemakers or other, and then they are suffering greatly later in their extended life, i think the doctors should be able to help that person die comfortably. making people suffer in the name of God does not sound like a good argument to me. Of course the slippery slope of letting people die in comfort when they want could lead to more tricky cases, but i think everyone deserves personal attention and shouldnt be lumped in a set of rules on how to die either way.
  7. helenros
    Report Abuse
    helenros - November 09, 2010 8:00 am
    While I support personal choice as a rule, I am torn on this issue. Absolutely, people should be able to end their pain. We do this for our beloved pets, but we can't do it for Grandma. On the other hand, what if the patient is motivated to end it sooner by financial concerns, a desire to leave an inheritance? No one should feel like such a burden that death is preferable.
  8. AnimalLover
    Report Abuse
    AnimalLover - November 09, 2010 5:54 am
    “No human being has the right to take their own life. It’s in the hands of God.”

    If you want to put things in the hands of a fairy tale please do so. In fact go all the way with it. Forgo all medications for blood pressure, diabetes pretty much anything small and trivial. After all didn't Santa, err god, give you those conditions. Who the F are you to try and control your imaginary beings decisions. You should also be forcing mothers to allow gestation to occur with no outside influence. If the child is born with any form of surgically repairable defect it should live or die by the hand of you loving god. Perhaps you sick people that believe in imaginary buddies should watch family members die, being eaten from the inside by cancer, going blind(Jesus didn’t come help my grandpa((yes he truly believed in praying))) and losing his feet from diabetes. See how that affects your blind faith, even though you’ll just pray harder while tubes are sticking in every hole to keep the corpse animated. On top of that, the tax payer can pick up the tab for all those tubes.
    Time to stop wasting resources on the weak, the old, the stupid, and the lazy. Once again, the government should not be in the business of keeping the weak alive. You bible thumpers should not be allowed to vote. Fairy tales don’t exist, and if they do, they sure as hell don’t give a damn about you. Now go pray for me.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editor@helenair.com. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses