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Diane Rehm Pledges in New Book to Advocate for Medical Aid in Dying

By Sean Crowley
The Washington Post today published the first interview with syndicated radio show host Diane Rehm about her new book, On My Own, which goes on sale Feb. 2. The book chronicles her late husband, John Rehm’s, prolonged death from Parkinson’s disease in June 2014 and her grieving process since then.

In the book, Diane pledges after she retires on Dec. 31 to work with Compassion & Choices to help pass laws that authorize terminally ill adults facing unbearable suffering to request medication they can self-ingest to die more gently.

Unfortunately, medical aid in dying is not an authorized end-of-life option in Maryland, where John spent the last two years of his life in a nursing home.

As a result, he decided to voluntarily stop eating and drinking (VSED), a medical practice that is authorized in every jurisdiction nationwide. While this option enables some people to die peacefully, Diane says it took 10 agonizing days before John finally died utilizing VSED.

Below is an excerpt of the Washington Post story titled: “Diane Rehm’s next act: Using her famed voice to fight for the good death.”

“‘I rage at a system that would not allow John to be helped toward his own death,’ Rehm writes of watching her spouse of 54 years wither away …”

Below are a few select quotes from On My Own.

p.7

“Why should it be that only a few states allow aid in dying with help from a trained physician willing to offer the ultimate gift?”

p. 90

“ … when I am no longer employed as a broadcaster … I will definitely want to contribute in some ways to Compassion & Choices, a national organization working to give people the right to choose to die with medical assistance. I so strongly believe in our right to choose when we die, if our illness is beyond any hope of bringing back a fullness of health. I know and respect those who argue that suffering is a part of living, but I do not agree and will do my best to speak out. I myself don’t want to suffer, nor do I want my family to see me suffer. When I believe the time has come for me to say farewell to this beautiful world, I will do so.”

p. 142-143

“Each and every one of us should have the right to choose … Let each of us make our own decision … “

“The individual might or might not choose to take the medication, but—as has been said many times by Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, which lobbied for the groundbreaking law in Oregon—having that medication in hand provides a sense of comfort and control over one’s own life.”

To read the Washington Post story, click here.