OPINION

Lahaie: Would you rather die in agony or peacefully in your sleep?

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Editor’s note: The following letter was recently sent to Gov. John Carney and shared with the Daily State News.

It’s unlikely that you have ever thought, “Please, God, don’t let me die in my sleep. I definitely want to experience at least a few days of terrible pain and misery before I die.”

I want the option to avoid terrible pain and misery, and die peacefully in my sleep. That’s why I support recently passed legislation to allow terminally ill adults in Delaware with less than six months to live the legal option to get medication prescribed by their doctor or advanced-practice registered nurse that will peacefully end their suffering if it becomes unbearable. This option enables them to die gently in their sleep, at home, surrounded by loved ones.

The bill, House Bill 140, The Ron Silverio/Heather Block End of Life Options Law, is co-named after my late husband, Ron Silverio, because he advocated for its passage until he died of metastatic prostate cancer in 2018. Now, it is up to Gov. John Carney to decide whether to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

Governors from six other states and the mayor of Washington, D.C. — including four Catholic governors — have already signed into law similar legislation allowing medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option, and many others hope to do so during their administrations. (There are four other states that are authorized through ballot initiatives and Supreme Court rulings.)

In 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Catholic, wrote that this legislation “respects the dignity and autonomy of capable individuals to make end-of-life decisions.” He also stated: “Faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself. As a public official, I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion.” In 2015, then-California Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, put it this way: “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And, in the end, I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

Ron was one of many terminally ill Delawareans who fought for this legislation. And sadly, he was also one of many who died before the bill was passed. Terminally ill people endure so much. The one thing they should not have to worry about is spending their last days in agony. I remain convinced that Ron would have actually lived longer if this legislation had been in place when he was first diagnosed in 2012.

I believe, as human beings, we have a moral obligation to prevent needless suffering. Gov. Carney, I ask you to help the terminally ill people of Delaware have fewer moments of worry and more moments of joy. I respectfully plead with you to follow the example of your fellow Democratic governors and sign HB 140 into law or allow it to become law without your signature.

Susan Lahaie

Dover

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

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