The California legislature is considering making physician-assisted legal through S.B. 128, which would allow a doctor to prescribe an overdose of pills so that a patient may die at the place and time of his or her choice. There are those who are fighting back though. A Hard Pill to Swallow is a group taking a stance against the legislation.
The group recently released a video on YouTube, “Stephanie’s Story: A family fights terminal illness and assisted suicide.” This touching video, which is just under five minutes, includes encouraging words from Stephanie, her parents, her husband, and two of her four children.
Stephanie was diagnosed with lupus in 2004, and in 2012 with scleroderma, which Stephanie explains means that her lungs harden and become scar tissue, so that she cannot get air properly in or out. She expects her lungs to give out in the middle of the night or after suffering from an infection, which will cause her heart to stop. Stephanie was given three years to live, but we are already almost in the middle of 2015, and the date in which she was expected to die has past. And yet Stephanie is still here!
Her husband explained how they are trying to figure out how to make her live longer, and also that the disease has brought them closer together, as they cannot look at the situation from a negative perspective, especially since life is not stopping. Her mother also describes Stephanie as someone who amazes her and is her hero. Stephanie and her family do not know if she will live to see tomorrow, or if she will have years to come, but she knows she cannot give up and keeps trying to live.
The video brings up S.B. 128, and includes Stephanie’s thoughts. She knows why people would consider it, but also has much to say against it:
Anyone else who is suicidal we get them help. We don’t hand them a gun… We send them to a doctor. We help give them the proper tools to deal with whatever circumstance is consuming them.
Such a point is a common argument against physician-assisted suicide, but it is certainly a telling one. It also speaks to the inherent dignity and worth every person has equal to another’s, regardless of their circumstances or illness.
Stephanie also speaks out against the bill, as someone who herself has a terminal illness:
This bill diminishes every single thing that I go through. It takes away from the fight. It makes the bad days worse. It minimizes everything. I know how I hope I’ll deal with it when the time comes but all we can do is prepare and do our best to carry on with having a life with dignity. There is a lot of honor in that and there is a lot of privilege in being able to show that for somebody else. Because even if my kids aren’t sick, they’ll see the importance of not giving up. You don’t run away from it. You walk through it and you hold the people that you love close and hold hands and go for it.
Such statements truly reflect both living and dying with dignity. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide and victims of it, such as Brittany Maynard, like to talk about dying with dignity. But what about the life Stephanie is living and fighting for? What about Lauren Hill, and Kara Tippetts? Both had terminal cancer as Brittany Maynard did, but both let the cancer take its course and were able to share a truly positive message of dignity and hope before passing on. Kara Tippetts even reached out to Brittany.
As the title of Stephanie’s video mentions, she is not just fighting for her life, but against physician-assisted suicide. The end of the video mentions a truly disturbing statement:
In states where assisted suicide is an option, patients like Stephanie are already being denied treatment in exchange for cheaper suicide pills.
Even if just for this reason alone, this bill must not pass to take advantage of more persons and their families. Not only do such bills rob a person of dignity then, by tricking them with a false sense of it, but they prey on the vulnerable, something which we ought to avoid at all costs as a society, not promote.