Hemlock Society & Foundation of Florida

Death with dignity law needed in Florida


by Donna Klamm, President, Hemlock Society of Florida

What a delight to read such a positive column on the Death with Dignity Act by FLORIDA TODAY's Britt Kennerly.

Kennerly put the focus on the compassion toward a young woman who chose to hasten her death rather than suffer immeasurably.

For the past 27 years, I have worked to promote humane death for mentally competent, terminally ill individuals. We are allowed to give this final act of love to our cherished pets but not to ourselves. I have been asked many times if I could end my own life under the same circumstances as Brittany Maynard, and I answer, "I don't know. I am not terminal but do hope I will have a choice when I am near death's door."

The one issue in Kennerly's article I object to is the term physician-assisted suicide. When a terminally ill individual wishes to end his or her suffering, it is physician-aid-in-dying or hastened death. Suicide is an irrational act that may be alleviated by therapy and drugs. An individual who is terminal and plans his or her death is merely hastening the process.

What is it about the death with dignity issue that Florida residents find so offensive? Anyone who has witnessed a loved one suffer unimaginable pain — be it physical, emotional or spiritual — knows there has to be a better way to end a good life.

The Death with Dignity Act does not force a terminally ill individual to end his or her life. It merely allows choice for the individual.

Come on, Floridians, let's get organized and get a Death with Dignity Act passed. If interested in having such a law, you can volunteer. Contact me at (800) 849-9349.


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