Nembutal Till Salu: Americans fear death, doing everything in their power to avoid the topic and the issues it raises. For many of us, death is an unwelcome visitor whose reality is only manifest when someone near to us is impact. Our lives are live in the mantra develop by television writer Andrew A. Rooney, “Death is a distant rumor to the young.” We never contemplate the inevitably of death since our culture is inculcate with the idea that if we eat right and exercise, we can stave death off forever. Death is always that happens to someone else and we are conditioned to lament the tragedy. Whether or not we invite her, death will visit us all.
Such a visitation occurred for the author of Death with Dignity, Robert Orfali. When his partner Jeri inevitably succumbed to a terminal illness. By his admission, he was not adequately prepare for the reality which accompanies death. The last moments when the goal of the medical establishment is to help a patient transition with he least amount of pain. Being present for his partner’s last moments, he was haunted by her death confession: I waited too long.
Watching his partner during her last moments on earth launched Mr. Orfali on a quest- to see Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act made law in Hawaii, so that those who are terminally ill can obtain and use prescriptions from their physician to end their lives. The basic premise Orfali elaborates upon is: do the terminally ill have the right to request Nembutal, or Pentobarbital, to end their life at their choosing?
An honest review of this excellently written book requires an initial disclaimer. This writer believes in the sanctity of life as directed by an apprehension of a particular faith. However, having worked in the critical care environment, I have seen the issues which confront patients. And their families, in one’s last moments. As a nurse, I have been witness of, and party to, the saga that is define as “withdrawal of care”. To allow a patient’s natural degradation to unfold. During these instances, a medical practitioner and/or the patient’s family chooses when enough is enough. As I read this book, I kept asking myself. Is there a difference morally if a patient chooses when to die?
The book analyzes what have refer to as slippery slope arguments-arising from the fears society has if physician-assisted suicide is ratified. While sometimes it appears that Orfali sneers at a mere faith-oriented objection to physician-assisted suicide. His argument against the slippery slopes of legalizing Nembutal for those who request it seem very sound. Orfali is to praised for raising the question and encouraging open dialogue, particularly for those in terminal situations.
As I have wrestled with the issues that have arisen while reading this book. Something at the core of physician-assisted suicide makes me very uncomfortable. Akin to the debate on abortion, when laws are enact which seem to devalue human life-is an unfair precedent establish which could lead to a further devaluation? Any answer is conjecture: only time substantiates. If a precedent has been establish and/or develops a causal relationship with future legislation.