Michael S. Rosenwald writes in The Washington Post on an emerging leader in the debate over end-of-life care:
Diane Rehm and her husband John had a pact: When the time came, they would help each other die.
John’s time came last year. He could not use his hands. He could not feed himself or bathe himself or even use the toilet. Parkinson’s had ravaged his body and exhausted his desire to live.
“I am ready to die,” he told his Maryland doctor. “Will you help me?”
The doctor said no, that assisting suicide is illegal in Maryland. Diane remembers him specifically warning her, because she is so well known as an NPR talk show host, not to help. No medication. No pillow over his head. John had only one option, the doctor said: Stop eating, stop drinking.
So that’s what he did. Ten days later, he died.
For Rehm, the inability of the dying to get legal medical help to end their lives has been a recurring topic on her show. But her husband’s slow death was a devastating episode that helped compel her to enter the contentious right-to-die debate.
“I feel the way that John had to die was just totally inexcusable,” Rehm said in a long interview in her office. “It was not right.”
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