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Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Death and Taxes


Good Life, Good Death 

This year, the deadline for filing tax returns is April 18th, an additional three days due to April 18th being observed as President Washington's birthday. Bear in mind that the "deadline" is based on the post-mark, not date of receipt by the IRS.

Tax cheaters abound.  Death is unavoidable. But a "Good Death" is experienced by few. For those who live long and become infirm, it is often a slow, degrading process.  Reading about Lucidending made me think of those within my circle of friends friends who died in the past twelve months. I  lost four of them.  Three of them died of cancer, one of whom declined to go through traditional medical procedures. Her decision didn't mean a quick end. Despite drugs for relief of pain and care provided by local hospice, her quality of life drastically deteriorated. She was a resident of the United Kingdom and made it clear that given a choice she would have opted for a quicker, dignified death.

Motto of the now defunct Hemlock Society

Strange, the legal obstacles to let terminally ill people have the choice to call it quits! Citizens of the State of Oregon deserve praise for the landmark legislation -- Death With Dignity Act of 1997 which permits Oregonians to do so. The act survived efforts by the Bush administration to overturn it.

The State of Washington passed an act in 2008, RCW 70.245. Based on the Oregon legislation, it is now under attack from conservatives who have introduced a bill to require that death certificates of those who elect to seek an end to life under the act to include: ".......... cause of death to be recorded as assisted suicide for purposes of the death with dignity act."  It would be interesting to follow developments.  

"In 2009, Montana Supreme Court in Baxter vs. Montana ruled in favor of the plaintiffs to allow terminall ill patients to seek physician's assistance in dying.  Recently, efforts to ban patients from doing so suffered a defeat when  Montana's Senate Judiciary Committee  voted against House Bill 116 ".......which would have restricted competent, terminally ill patients from requesting medication from their physicians to hasten their deaths."

Other states are considering legislation based on the Oregon model.  However, in the face of opposition by ‘right-to -lifers’, religious organizations, and vested interest groups (medical service providers), progress is going to be slow. And enactment of such laws in all 50 states will remain unattainable in the foreseeable future.  


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