So on May 23 a majority in the Maine House of Representatives voted against L.D. 347, an Act to Support Death with Dignity.

As a person with cancer who is facing the end of available treatments, I was hoping that I would be gifted the choice to die as I choose to with the dignity I deserve. Not so. Yes, I know, I still have a way — suicide — but I was hoping that it wouldn’t come to such a brutal choice, not in Maine.

And that is what the majority of representatives have taken away from some of us with terminal diseases — choice.

Within the last few years I have seen two people die while under hospice care. The first was my mother, who died relatively quickly and painlessly, though not without a great deal of discomfort. The second person I watched die was a good friend who had cancer. He too was under hospice care and despite receiving intravenous morphine and Ativan, his body would regularly convulse and his face, grimace — sometimes in pain, but mostly as a reaction to the drugs that were meant to help him die in peace.

Death is the ultimate personal event; we all go through it alone. However, if we are facing a certain death, or even a future of relentless pain and suffering, we should have the option of dying with some dignity at a time of our choosing. It is simply a matter of compassion and mercy.

Finally, I offer an opportunity to the people who denied me the choice of a death with dignity: come and stay with me while I am dying. Hold my hand and tell me it is God’s will as I scream out in pain. Hold my body down when it convulses and tell me how natural it is.

Ted Markow

Brunswick

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