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 cancer patient who is facing the end of available treatments, I was hoping that I would have the choice to die as I choose, with the dignity I deserve. Yes, I know, I still have a way – suicide – but I was hoping that it wouldn’t come to such a brutal choice 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 painlessly, though not without a great deal of discomfort and gasping. The second person I watched die was a good friend who had cancer.

He, too, was under hospice care, but it took him weeks of agony and pleading. And despite receiving intravenous morphine and the sedative Ativan, his body would regularly convulse and his face grimace – sometimes as a reaction to 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 will all go through it. 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 choice.

I suggest that those who voted against death with dignity volunteer to stay by the bedside of someone who is dying a protracted and painful death. Then, hopefully, if they are lucky, their hearts will crack open enough to give others the merciful gift of choice.

Ted Markow