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Fire Away! by Dee Jay Gude
I had a letter from a reader who also posts in the Southern Maryland Online forums. He thought that my home life must be interesting because my right-winger husband frequently posts these huge missives in the forums, extolling his views on everything from his loathing of Clinton to his loathing of liberalism in general. We often agree, because I tend to go off on right-wing tangents myself. On many things, though, we disagree. Abortion - he's pro-life, I'm pro-choice (to some extent). Gun waiting periods - I say yes, he says no. He thinks that people are basically good, I think people are basically morons who don't think past their own personal pleasures. He thinks we have no business in Bosnia, I say "Why stop there?" These differences of opinion make for some rousing breakfast conversation.

Here's a peek at this morning's topic of disagreement:

Larry: It's about time that Kevorkian person gets convicted of killing people!

Dee Jay: What do you mean, killing people? He's helping to euthanize people who are suffering from terminal illness!

Larry: He's a murderer. Last time I looked, murder was against the law.

Dee Jay: When you do it to your pet, it's considered humane. Why should you show more compassion to an animal than you would to your grandmother?

And so it goes...he rants, I listen patiently, then reasonably explain my sensible point of view, he cuts me off in mid-point to rant some more. Well...maybe that's not quite how it happens but if he wants to refute my version, he'll have to get his own column. Nanny nanny boo-boo.

I have a major problem with authority - on that we can both agree. I don't like the government telling me what to do when I'm in the privacy of my own home. I don't like following arbitrary laws just because some idiot had enough clout or screamed loud enough to get something through Congress. I'm a grown up person who doesn't infringe on the rights of others. All I ask is not to have my rights infringed upon in return.

Which is why I support Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I have actually witnessed a person near and dear to me waste away with cancer. I have witnessed my friend's grandmother, stricken with Alzheimers for over 9 years, to the point that she now can't feed herself or use the toilet and must be strapped in a wheelchair during her awake hours so she doesn't injure herself. Two years ago, my grandfather committed suicide rather than go the distance with his terminal degenerating disease. If these people had had the means to end their life without suffering, would they have? I don't know - but what I do know is that they should have the choice to make the decision for themselves.

The stupid government wants to micromanage everything we do, now they want to be in charge of our death as well. I'm not afraid of dying (everybody does it at some point) but I am literally terrified of being out of control of my body and my mind. If something were to happen where I was incapacitated mentally and physically, I would rather just die and get it over with. Of course I could always commit traditional suicide, pills or a gun. But then I have to worry about who's going to find my body, like maybe some loved one who would be traumatized for life over the discovery. I suppose I could crash my car, but then I run the risk of taking someone out with me. And this is assuming I have enough control over my body that I can actually accomplish this task. No, I'd rather have a doctor come in and set me up with an something that will put me peacefully to sleep forever.

Larry says it cheapens life. He is concerned that it will become acceptable for someone suffering from depression, or even just having a bad day, to go into the doctor on their lunch hour to be euthanized. He also fears that family members will either coerce or actually demand that an indigent person commit suicide because they've become a burden. He is alarmed at the thought of public funding for this procedure.

I say it's a way of dying with dignity instead horrific suffering until you finally keel over. And I don't think the Supreme Court has the authority to say what we can or cannot do with our lives, even at the end.

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