A Trojan Decision

Surprise, kids!  For once, I’m actually going to talk about a local issue (well, local to this state, anyway).

Here in Washington State, there’s a initiative on the ballot this year.  Initiative 1000 would allow certain terminally ill, mentally competent adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.  In short, it will legalize assisted suicide for the sound of mind and incurably failing of body.

There are of course groups for and against Initiative 1000.  Those who support it say that it would allow a dignified death for people suffering in constant and unimaginable pain, such as the mother of Seattle newspaper The Stranger columnist Dan Savage.  Mr. Savage recently wrote a very stirring piece about watching his mother pass away, and in it explains his support for Initiative 1000.  The opponents include the Washington State Catholic Conference, a Bremerton pastor, and the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.  (Of those three, only CAAS does not base its opposition on religious views, which is a point in their favour.  I don’t believe in making my religion into law; to do so imposes my beliefs on those who have chosen not to believe as I do, which strikes me as being very un-American.)  But when it came time for me to make a choice, none of those groups, pro or con, were here; it was just me and my absentee ballot. . .and my conscience.

See, I believe that where there is life, there is always hope. . .hope that things will get better, hope for a miracle, hope that Karl Rove, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, and John McCain will be caught having the grossest gay orgy in history by a CNN camera crew, whatever.  There’s always hope, always a chance, however infinitesimally small, is my point, and I always hold on tight to hope, and life.

But.

Four and a half years ago, my ex-girlfriend’s family and I faced a choice.  Her brother was in a coma, unlikely to awaken and grievously, irreparably brain-damaged even if he did.  He was a hearty, robust, muscular, strong man, only four years older than me, and he had made it known before then that he wouldn’t want to live if he couldn’t be who he used to anymore.  Since he was unable to speak for himself, though, the decision of whether or not to pull his life support came down to his parents, his sister, his girlfriend, his ex-fiance, and me.

However much I would have wanted to hang on to hope, it ultimately wasn’t my life, and wasn’t my decision.  It was his, and he’d already made his wishes known.  So for him, I let go of hope.  We let go of hope. . .and let go of him.

Yesterday, when it came time to fill in a circle on Initiative 1000, I remembered that.  It’s not my life, not my decision, not my pain, and not my right to force my beliefs on anyone else.

So I voted yes.

VS – 10/21/08

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One Response to “A Trojan Decision”

  1. Good for you 🙂

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