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August 18, 2012 at 7:30 AM

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Death with Dignity Act ensures control, not pain

Use the word ‘suicide’ in the right context

Thank you for the article about Dr. Richard Wesley; my pleasure was squashed by the sensationalized headline [“A surprise reflection of who picks assisted suicide,” NWSunday, Aug. 12].

I worked with Gov. Booth Gardner and others to pass the Death with Dignity Act. The Times interviewed me about the promise I made to my husband to get the law passed. My husband died from brain cancer, without this choice — a choice he wanted.

During the campaign, we worked to correct the erroneous use of the word suicide; using it in conjunction with Dr. Wesley is pejorative and legally inaccurate. The death certificates of patients who use the law report the underlying disease and not suicide.

As a volunteer for Compassion and Choices, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Wesley. He is not mentally ill and neither was my husband. The choice to shorten one’s dying process is not suicidal thinking, but rather rational thinking of a mentally competent patient who wants to live a full life but doesn’t have that choice. That is not the same as a mentally ill patient who can live a full life but would rather die.

I’m grateful Dr. Wesley has this choice, but please don’t add to his suffering by using a hurtful word — these courageous patients deserve more.

— Nancy Niedzielski, Lynnwood

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