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Life with Dignity

Times Argus Letter to the editor

January 30, 2007

We cannot talk about death with dignity until we talk about life with dignity. A legislative bill, H44 in the Vermont House, concerns me because of the holes it leaves for end of life care. The bill requires that individuals be informed of alternatives, but it does not require or actively support improved access to existing quality palliative care and hospice services. Not wanting to “be a burden” on others is an issue our society needs to address ­ people with disabilities often believe they are a burden. Why as a society do we make people feel like a burden instead of celebrating their life and offering ways for people to live with dignity? Legislating death with dignity can increase feelings of being a burden and actually contribute to the stigma attached to having a disability.

The Vermont State Legislature is continuing the discussion this year. It is taking away time from other issues around healthcare, personal care attendant services, accessible housing, transportation and employment.

I challenge all representatives and senators this year to spend their time increasing access to quality healthcare, increasing funding for hospice, requiring the adequate delivery of palliative care for those living in pain and those at the end of their lives.

Sarah Wendell Launderville