Letter in the Dickinson Press- Protect the Right to Say Goodbye by Arlette Preston

I am voting “No” on Measure 1 and this is why. I am a nurse and have had the privilege to be at the side of individuals as they are passing from this life, providing comfort to them and their families. It is always a painful experience but one that can be peaceful.

I have witnessed times when it has not been a peaceful process. A person enters the hospital for symptom relief — perhaps difficulty with breathing. There is a clearly written advance directive and the family fully knows what the patient desires. The bias for aggressive treatment is so strong in the medical world that the medical team inserts a tube into the lungs to assist with breathing. It all happens so quickly, the patient and/or family is unable to stop it. After the tube placement and receiving care in the intensive care unit, the patient requests the removal of the tube so she can say “goodbye” to her children. The physician refused that request due to legal issues or moral/religious views. The patient dies without ever being able to talk with her children one last time.

I have personally observed many other similar circumstances. There is no other more important time in life to protect the right to self-determination.

Measure 1 which requires the state (and the medical care team) to protect life at all stages of development will only worsen situations as described above. The health care community is working hard to assist people with end-of-life planning and making sure the health care system honors those plans.

This measure could set that back and destroy decades of effort.