Letter to the Editor: Support Death with Dignity for Wisconsin

Death is going to happen to you, to me, to everyone. We’re not getting out of this life alive. So why is the idea of a dignified death through medical aid in dying so controversial? 

Perhaps it’s because many people are not educated on the subject. Perhaps it’s against their religious beliefs. Or perhaps it’s because people are too scared to think about their own demise, and avoiding the subject altogether is just more comfortable for them.

As a cancer survivor, I have thought about death long and hard. I have studied it. I have witnessed it firsthand several times. I know what suffering looks like.

My experiences with end of life are why I began volunteering for Death with Dignity: a nonprofit, national leader in end-of-life advocacy and policy reform. Its mission focuses on improving how people with terminal illness die. 

Death with Dignity is legal in Maine, California, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, Montana, the District of Columbia, Washington, New Jersey, Hawaii and New Mexico. To be clear, people qualify for Death with Dignity only if they’re adults in a state that has a Death with Dignity statute (except Vermont and Oregon, where the residency requirements have been lifted); are mentally competent (capable of making and communicating their health care decisions); are diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to their death within six months (no exceptions); and are able to self-administer and ingest the prescribed medication without assistance.

The process is painless and peaceful. Individuals who choose medical aid in dying experience death in a dignified manner, on their own terms.

The Wisconsin End of Life Options Act, which would have authorized medical aid in dying for qualified terminally ill Wisconsin residents, was introduced on Feb. 23, 2022. It did not make it out of committee.

I encourage your readers to educate themselves on this very important subject. If you support Death with Dignity, write to our Wisconsin legislators to voice your support. Encourage our representatives to introduce another bill that will allow medical aid in dying.

Ashley Lusk
Ellison Bay, Wisconsin