Greg Archbald: 4.8M people deserve the discussion |

Greg Archbald: 4.8M people deserve the discussion

Last Tuesday’s “Other Voices” column featured a thoughtful and informative op-ed piece by Carolyn Peterson, R.N., executive director of Hospice of the Foothills in Grass Valley. I hope that it was widely read for its excellent information on the many capabilities and benefits of hospice care.

I’m 77 years old, think the world of hospice and the palliative care movement in this country, but I don’t buy Ms. Peterson’s attempt to stifle a healthy debate over California SB-128, the recently introduced End of Life Option Act. She dismisses the bill out of hand by saying there are “many compelling reasons beyond religion, values, fear or ethics not to expand physician aid-in-dying.”

End of discussion, she argues, the focus needs to be on “the ready availability of patient-centered comprehensive and appropriate end-of-life hospice care.”

Do you see the problem with this? We are talking about end-of-life options here.

If I or a loved one is brought low and near death by disease, injury or old age, I want as many options on the table as can be. Physician-assisted-suicide, also known as death with dignity, and right to die is an option I would like to have, whether I use it or not.

If you would like that option, too, or would like to know more about the discussion that Ms. Peterson dismisses so readily, you may appreciate the websites of the “Death With Dignity National Center,” and of the nationwide organization called “Compassion and Choices.” If you would like to read a tremendously thoughtful and moving book on end-of-life care practices in this country, get hold of “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande.

Are all end-of-life choices available in California, including SB-128, worth discussing and debating? You bet. The 4.8 million baby boomers living in the state today should make sure of it.

Greg Archbald is a retired resident of Nevada City.

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