Friday, December 7, 2012

Assisted suicide leaves no room for doctors' errors or erroneous prognostications

Jeanette Hall's letter ( "Assisted suicide prompts some terminally ill patients to give up on life prematurely"), about how she would have died from assisted suicide if her doctor hadn't talked her out of it, hit a nerve. Her stated motivation was that she had been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to a year to live. That was 12 years ago.
Doctors do not know the future. They are often wrong. Indeed, this has happened twice in my family.
The first time was with my father. At age 66, he collapsed as he was leaving a doctor's appointment in the hospital at Glasgow. A week or so later his doctor recommended that we "pull the plug." I instead moved my father to another hospital. He fully recovered and lived nine more years. The doctor was wrong.
The second time was with me. When I was 62 years old, I was paralyzed due to a disease and put on a respirator. After four months, my doctors offered to take me off the respirator. They said that there was no chance of recovery. They said that if I lived, I would always be respirator dependent and a quadriplegic. Instead, I eventually lost my paralysis and even went back to work. My doctors, excellent doctors with years of experience, were wrong. It is now 14 years later.
Proponents of assisted suicide sometimes claim that assisted suicide is no different than pulling the plug. This is untrue. When you pull the plug, the patient doesn't necessarily die. If the patient does die, he or she dies due to his or her illness, not a lethal overdose.
I hope that we can keep assisted suicide out of Montana.
Jerry and Dora Lou Jacobson,