Dying With Dignity

Jane Lotter's pin

Jane Lotter’s pin

One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen, is that you have time to write your own obituary. (The other advantages are no longer bothering with sunscreen and no longer worrying about your cholesterol.) Jane Catherine Lotter

I was deeply moved when I read Andrew Solomon’s book on depression The Noonday Demon where he describes the experience of being present at his mother’s planned suicide. She overdosed on seconal in 1991 at the end of a long battle with ovarian cancer.

This week, I read about Jane Lotter. In early 2010, she learned she had uterine cancer. She went through a series of treatments, lost her hair twice and then knew she wasn’t going to make it. She was the only one of the original members of her cancer support group still alive.

Jane took advantage of Washington State’s compassionate Death with Dignity Act and died peacefully at home on July 18, 2013 surrounded by her family. She was sixty years old. At Jane’s request, her ashes were scattered in Elliott Bay near the Pike Place Market.

Thirty-nine states have laws prohibiting assisted suicide. AL, MA, WV and the District of Columbia prohibit assisted suicide by common law. OR, VT, and WA have legalized physician-assisted suicide via legislation. MT has legal physician-assisted suicide via court ruling. NV, NC, UT, and WY have no specific laws regarding assisted suicide, may not recognize common law, or are otherwise unclear on the legality of assisted suicide.

If only West Virginia were Pennsylvania; it’s not but if need be it’s close enough for the chance to write one’s own obituary.



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