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McKeon comment appalling

Posted: August 30, 2009 10:25 p.m.
Updated: August 31, 2009 4:55 a.m.
I am 88 years old and it really bothers me when elected officials voice their own misleading interpretations of a congressional bill and frighten seniors into thinking that the bill would have dire consequences.

Our own Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon is a recent example of this. It is appalling that on the floor of the House of Representatives during a debate on Health Care Reform he is quoted as saying, "Start reading how they are going to have you, at 65, go in and have a planning session with a health care consultant on how you're going to die."

If that was just a bad choice of words, he should have known better than to phrase it that way, but if he purposely twisted the words and the intent of the bill as a scare tactic to further a political agenda, it is inexcusable.

The section of the proposed bill that he was apparently referring to is the one on Advance Care Planning, and if adopted, it would actually provide valuable benefits for seniors.

An advance health care directive is certainly not new. My husband and I each had one for many years. I had mine reviewed and upgraded by an attorney in Arizona in 1995 and again in California in 2008.

A copy of it, reduced in size, is folded and kept in my wallet at all times. It expresses my wishes regarding medical treatment in case of an accident or incurable illness. It also specifies under what conditions I would or would not want artificial life support and it is legally binding.

All adults should have a medical directive as well as a living will, and it is especially important for seniors.

The House bill under consideration includes information and counseling for living wills and medical directives paid for by the government.

I have known friends and relatives with terminal illnesses who pleaded to have life support systems unplugged, but by law a compassionate doctor cannot help them and even family members are emotionally reluctant to make that decision.

When an elderly person is in excruciating pain and life is no longer worth living, why should someone else by allowed to make a live-or-die decision for them simply because of a personal belief?

Sometimes ethical, moral and cruel are words that have similar meanings.

Please, let's support humane laws that give each of us not only the right to a good life, but the right to reach the end of life with dignity and without misery.

It should be a personal choice. Don't let anyone with scare tactics take that choice away from you.


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