Welcome back, Dr. Jack!
While you were gone we here in Oregon passed the nation's first and most logical Physician-Assisted Suicide law, the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Under it, after a process involving two doctors, and a lot of other screening, those who have a prognosis of six months to live or less, can get (usually) a fatal dose of liquid Nembutal and die peacefully, surrounded by family and friends (if they choose) or in solitude.
The religious fanatics who run things in Washington tried to knock out the law, Dr. Jack. It went to the U.S. Supreme Court. We won.
We're sorry you went to jail for the concept of controlling one's death the way one controls one's life.
We wish you had been able to control your own life these past years, when you were locked away.
The vanguard of any movement begins with those who push the limits outrageously. You did that. We understand. We may have disagreed with some of your tactics, but we know where you're coming from ... a sense of medical ethics that says, "The patient is the boss. The patient has the right to die as he chooses."
The rest of the country? Consider this. Consider that you have been diagnosed with a terrible lung disease that will cause you to be shorter and shorter of breath, gradually getting worse day after day. You find yourself gasping for breath and know that soon you will suffocate to death ... as though someone put a pillow over your head.
Say you knew someone who had had the same disease, and you saw how he deteriorated. You watched him gasp for breath. You knew he was going to suffocate one day soon. And now it's you. You're going to suffocate to death. A long, lingering terrifying death.
What would you want to do? If you were not bound to a rigid and illogical set of religious rules, most likely you would say, "I want out before I get like that. I know what is my fate. Don't make me suffer. Please don't let me suffocate."
Right now, the politicians answer is, "Sorry, Charlie. Take a hike."
The dirty little secret is that, all over America, doctors and nurses are conspiring to help such people die. They take the risk of losing their careers and even facing jail time if caught. They don't get caught. They do help people die.
Everybody else looks the other way. Does this make sense to you?
I'm pleading your case, Dr. Jack.
We're glad you're back. I have the feeling we haven't heard the last from you.
I hope not.