Unlike column writer Roxane Salonen, I hope Minnesota will one day enact legislation similar to the Death with Dignity law that Oregon passed when I lived there 25 years ago. (Salonen’s column, “We’ve denied assisted suicide for good reason,” was published at duluthnewstribune.com on Aug. 31.)

A dear friend of mine in Oregon suffered from metastatic breast cancer, losing vital organ functioning and her vision when the disease spread to her brain. She battled the cancer for years and exhausted all treatment options. There was no hope of recovery. When the pain and suffering made her daily life merely “existing” rather than living, she made the choice to ingest Death-with-Dignity medications at home with her family around her, and she gently slipped away.

I think it’s quite impossible for us to imagine what it’s like to be in the place of a dying person. Because of that, we should never insist that others follow our religious or ethical beliefs. Everyone should have the freedom to make end-of-life decisions that are best for them and their families, according to their own values and beliefs.

Death with Dignity laws provide a compassionate option, and if anyone, like Salonen, doesn’t agree with them ethically, they need not participate. But they should please not deny the option to others.

Jan Karon

Newsletter signup for email alerts