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Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Meister

California volunteer Susan Meister has a powerful motivator for supporting “The End-of-Life Option Act” in her state. “I’ve been very close to some of the ethical issues that physicians deal with every day: the miracles that new technology can bring to medicine and the horrors that it wreaks on people who don’t seem to grasp how medicine can prolong death, and the discomfort doctors have in explaining there are some conditions that just can’t be healed.”

A journalist who spent many years covering medicine and now writes for a number of Monterey County papers, Meister also devotes a good deal of her time to activism. “I’m not someone who sits and watches. Once I knew there was a campaign about to start in California, I never had a moment of doubt that I would be active in it. I have always believed that having an end-of-life option such as the one in Oregon, which I’ve followed for many years, is a vital human right,” she explains. “So the minute I had the time to work for it in my own state, I decided I would really put my energy into it.”

In addition to writing numerous articles and op-eds about death with dignity, Meister has also met with legislators and hosted Action Team meetings. “I’ve been recruiting members to meet at my house in February, and we hope to kick off the Monterey County volunteer campaign. I’m hoping to have a public meeting soon,” she says. “I’m going to ask Sen. Bill Monning (the California bill’s sponsor) to speak.”

Having tracked the movement for so long, she is realistic about what it will take to finally bring death with dignity to her state. “The problem always is to get people to actually do something, like call their legislator or write a letter or talk to their physicians. So that’s one of the challenges we have, to get the general public to be active,” Meister says. But she remains undeterred: “My enthusiasm and persistence will go the distance for this campaign, however long it takes.”