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Why are we Afraid of 'The Conversation?' Make your Voice Heard: a Volunteer Call to Action
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Help establish a compassionate end-of-life option for the terminally-ill in Arizona
your name to the growing list of supporters in favor of legalizing
Medical Aid in Dying in our state. It will be presented to the
legislature before next year's bill.
Why are we Afraid of 'The Conversation?' by Stu Burge, former Communications & Marketing Lead at Arizona End of Life Options
when you were a kid and one or both of your parents sat you down to
have “The Conversation?” That dreaded birds and bees talk. Or
maybe you have had “the conversation” with your own children. Either
way, most people find the event a bit tense for all concerned. However,
if the talk is conducted honestly, using age-appropriate language, the
result is likely to be a closer, more trusting relationship that can lay
the groundwork for years of healthy exchanges.
Now think about the other end of life’s continuum – the winter of our
days. The inescapable prospect of death. That should be the subject of
the “other” conversation, which so often never takes place because most
of us find it even more difficult to talk about than the birds and the
bees. Doesn’t it seem odd that we in Western cultures do our best to
ignore the obvious? Heck, as children, we learn that all living
organisms are created, flourish and eventually die. No matter if it’s a
flower, a goldfish, or lovable old grandma, we all end our journey in
the exact same way. We accept the facts but spend most of our time
acting as if death is something that only happens to other people.
Recently, I have been thinking more and more about death. Not because
I’m in a hurry to die, but because I am 76 years old and afflicted with
chronic neurological and cardiovascular conditions caused by exposure to
Agent Orange in Vietnam. I am classified as 100% disabled by the
Veterans Administration and my doctors say my health issues are
undoubtedly reducing my life expectancy. So I have had “the
conversation” with my family and also completed my Advance Directive and
related “check-out” documents.
Am I afraid to die? Heck no. Considering some of the dumb things I’ve done, I’m lucky to still be here.
But there is one thing that scares the bejesus out of me, and that is
the thought of passing away in a state (like Arizona) that hasn’t yet
passed a medical aid-in-dying law. Nine other states and the District of
Columbia already have statutes in place that give terminally ill
residents the opportunity to qualify for a thoughtful, non-traumatic
death with dignity style passing. When my docs advise me that the end is
approaching, I insist on leaving this world quietly, peacefully and in
the company of people I love. Protracted medical interventions to help
me “fight another day” are unwelcome, thank you very much.
But I am afraid that the Arizona legislature is going to continue its
senseless refusal to consider a medical aid in dying (MAID) law for the
state. Virtually every year since 2002, bipartisan bills proposing a
time-tested aid-in-dying law have been introduced in the Arizona
statehouse only to be passed over in committee and swept under the rug,
never to receive serious, informed consideration. For an ever-growing
cadre of Arizona voters this inaction is unconscionable and needs to be
stopped in its tracks.
To me, and thousands of others like me, the freedom to evaluate and make
choices about how we want to die is an inviolable human right that is
too important to be left to the whims of politicians.
Make Your Voice Heard: a Volunteer Call to Action
by Sandy Wester
all heard that rallying cry during the past few months, with regard to
exercising your right to to vote. But, do you know that your voice needs
to be heard in many other ways? As we get older, things in our lives
change, much as we hate to admit it. Our opinions change, our health may
decline and our families may not always agree with how we view certain
One of these topics is end-of-life issues. Not everyone is comfortable
discussing death and dying, but let's face it. We all will die,
sometime. And, if you have the discussion now, your loved ones will know
your wishes, and hopefully, abide by the decisions you make.
Maybe you have had the experience of being with someone as they neared
the end of their life. And maybe it was a peaceful death, what we call a
"good death." But maybe it wasn't. When we are faced with a ravaging,
terminal disease, I think most of us want the right to choose how and
when we die.
All across this country, there are many states that have enacted
legislation that gives their residents the right-to-die. Arizona has
not. Yet. Our volunteers at Arizona End of Life Options have been active
in getting this issue before the legislators and are looking forward to
the day that there will be a vote before them. As of yet, the Arizona
legislature has not been willing to even discuss the issue and it
is for that reason I am asking all of you to consider writing
either a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or an op-ed
article explaining why this law is necessary. Your
opinions are important and your support is critical. A letter need not
be long, nor does it need to be perfectly worded. We have people who can
help with light editing and proof-reading. We just need YOU to help get
the word out! And, an op-ed (short for opposite the editorial page), is
usually longer in length (600 to 800 words) and may seem daunting to
some, but it is an exciting way to share ideas.
Since you are reading this in our newsletter, you are already part of
our AZELO family. so, make your voice heard, get those letters and
op-eds written! We'll get our MAID law passed soon.
Please forward a copy of your letter to Sandy at: email@example.com
Are you a physician, nurse, social worker or pharmacist?
Would You Say Yes?
A town hall event for medical professionals; coming in March 2021
Medical Aid in Dying is not yet law in Arizona, but we estimate it could
be in 2-3 years. Therefore, we need to begin preparing now. We will
need doctors who will be willing to be the attending and consulting
physicians, compounding pharmacies to prepare the medicine, and nurses
and social workers well versed in the facts of how the law works.
Would You Say Yes?is a webinar for healthcare professions and refers to the following three important questions:
you were faced with a six-month terminal illness, relentless pain and a
poor quality of life, and MAID was legal, would you consider using the
If one of your friends or family members were eligible for the law, would you support their decision?
If one of your patients or clients asked you to assist them in utilizing the law, would you say yes?
In NEW MEXICO, HB 47 - The Elizabeth Whitefield
End-of-Life Options Act was approved by their House of Representatives
by a vote of 39 to 27 and is now on it way to the Senate.
In WASHINGTON STATE,
Feb 25, the Washington State House of Representatives approved HB1141
to increase access to the Death with Dignity Act by a
HB 1141 allows:
practice registered nurses or physician assistants to act as either the
attending or consulting medical provider for individuals who want to
access the Death with Dignity Act. A physician would still have to be
one of the other two providers in either case.
the waiting period from 15 days to 72 hours, and allows the attending
and consulting providers to waive the waiting period if the terminally
ill individual’s death is imminent.
modernizes the rules around how and when individuals can obtain their aid-in-dying prescription from a pharmacy.
In HAWAII, an amendment
(SB839 / HB487), to the Our Care, Our Choice Act, based on
recommendations from the Hawai’i Department of Health, was introduced on
January 22. It includes advanced practice registered nurses among the
list of authorized providers of medical aid in dying, shortens the
waiting period from 20 to 15 days and allows physicians to waive the
waiting period for critically ill patients.
February 11, 2021 the bill passed out of the Senate Healthcare
Committee with a 4-1 vote. On February 25, 2021 the bill passed out
of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 4-3 vote.
Other February MAID Bill Submissions: Kentucky: Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville introduced House Bill 506. Minnesota: A proposal was introduced withSen. Chris Eaton, co-sponsoring. Connecticut: House Bill 6425 Massachusetts: Bill re-introduced; co-sponsored by State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton.
Bob’s Choice: Why a Seattle man chose death with dignity