The latest from Compassion & Choices

Adirondack Daily Enterprise letter to the editor: Medical Aid in Dying

An excerpt from Adirondack Daily Enterprise letter to the editor by Saranac Lake resident Rev. Jeff Black, published March 11, 2021:

“There’s a Medical Aid in Dying Act before the New York Legislature. I hope they pass it. I understand our neighboring states of Vermont and New Jersey as well as seven other states have already enacted this law.

I’m a retired pastor, now 75. Apparently, no exception has been made in my case, so I need to make friends with what Keats called ‘Easeful death.’ I’ve prayed at many death beds, seen hundreds of parishioners get a terminal disease. Two of my brothers endured horrific suffering as they neared their deaths. It’s a hard subject. Many of my clergy colleagues disagree with me, and they may be right…

In 47 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve learned that it is sometimes really difficult for doctors and nurses to sustain comfort in the face of such ravages as aggressive late-stage cancers. Why should not the dying person be empowered to say goodbye and take a medication that brings breathing gently to its end? Obviously, only that person, feeling the approach of death, has the right to decide to do this. But demanding that the dying endure agony because we think God wants them to? God is not cruel; God is merciful. Jesus, contemplating his own death, said he would ‘accomplish his exodus.’ That seems to me to be a good framework for us to contemplate.”