From the Times Union: Life Interrupts an Attempt to Die at Home

I’ve sung the praies of Cathleen Crowley before. Please read the above story, which is simply exceptional.

The Hospice employees and EMTs cannot and should not be a part of this discussion, at least not in terms of what they should or should not have done. Every one of them did exactly and absolutely what they were duty-bound to do. Any other course of action would have been a dereliction of duty.

 Where the fault lies is, unfortunately, is with the unavoidable complications that always come with an imperfect world.

 One is our perception of life and death. In particular, the majority still holds the belief that one should be forced to live out his oer her life to its bitter end with nothing to expediate the process, no matter how far the situation degrades or how great the suffering becomes. I cannot for certain say that I respectfully disagree with someone on the premise of “right to die,” because I strongly believe that imposing your discomfort with the idea of choosing to die – or allowing someone who has made that choice to have someone assist them when they are unable to carry out the process on their own – is a special kind of cruelty; where one’s character flaws and a misinterpretation of mercy result in righteousness and ego superceding the comforts and rights of others.

 Of course, it’s not always simple. Certainly not in this case, since the woman was attempting to do it herself and is allowed under the law to make the choice to end her own life. There is no law or legislation or change in policy that could have prevented this from happening. In this case, all the laws – the ones that allowed her to end her own life and the ones that required the EMTs to revive her – are as they should be. The sad and unfortunate truth is that you cannot legislate absolutely. In other words, there will always be a time when the law works to the detriment of another, and there will always be a situation such as this one where questions arise and the best of intentions get in the way of a person’s choice to have a peaceful, dignified passing in the comfort of their own home.

 No easy answers on this one, but lots of fascinating questions.

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