In reaction to the Aug. 22 letter “Mainers should block reckless assisted-suicide law,” I would like to share a true story.

In the mid-1980s, a dear friend was diagnosed with AIDS. At the time there was no effective treatment and AIDS was a death sentence. My friend, understandably, suffered emotionally as well as physically.

At some point in the course of his disease he began stockpiling barbiturates and even asked a friend to help him with taking them if and when he decided that his quality of life was no longer bearable. As soon as he made this arrangement he noticeably relaxed, for the first time feeling he had some control over the turmoil his health had been thrown in for over a year.

The end of my friend’s story came in 1987. Interestingly, he never took the drugs he had stockpiled nor asked his friend to assist in his suicide. Right to the end he knew he had the option to control his life and death but never felt the need to use it.

The empowerment given my friend by the option to say when enough was enough made for a much more bearable disease course. Shouldn’t everyone be given that gift of empowerment?

Joan Hager


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