A doctor who helped many end their life early recently supported her husband's decision to die-He did not want to suffer

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Dr. Catherine Forest has assisted numerous terminally ill patients with ending their lives by prescribing medication to aid in dying. She strongly supports the End of Life Option Act that recently went into effect in 2016. The End of Life Option Act allows "an adult diagnosed with a terminal disease, who meets certain qualifications, to request the aid-in-dying drugs from their attending physician." [i] [ii]

Dr. Forest recently shared her experience following her husband's request to utilize assisted dying. Their relationship had been strong, and Dr. Forest immediately understood her husband's reasoning. Will Forest had been diagnosed with a motor neuron disease, and his decline progressed exceptionally quickly. His physicians informed him "that he was going to die by choking or suffocating." [iii]

Dr. Catherine Sonquist ForestPhoto byCompassion and Choices

Will admitted to his wife, Dr. Forest, that if he had not learned about the aid-in-dying law through her, he "would be living every last day of [his] life absolutely terrified of dying this way." Although Will's primary healthcare network was Catholic and unable to provide the life-ending medication, they got him into another hospital to receive the needed medication. [iv]

The End of Life Option Act allows healthcare providers who "object for reasons of conscience, morality, or ethics" to decline to participate in assisted dying. Additionally, providers may not be subject to "civil, criminal, administrative," or other penalties for refusing to participate. [v]

Dr. Forest says the entire experience caused her family to think "about people in other states who do not have authorized access to aid in dying." Her husband had only two months between his diagnosis and death. She remarked,

Will knew he was dying. Having the option of medical aid in dying meant that instead of having to worry about what would happen - Would he choke or suffocate to death? - Will could decide for himself whether his own suffering was unbearable. He could focus on spending the time he had left with our children and other loved ones, rather than in a state of anxiety over the end [vi]

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[i] Compassion and Choices, Catherine Sonquist Forest, M.D. (Nov. 21, 2022)

[ii] Center for Health Statistics and Informatics, End of Life Option Act (2022)

[iii] Compassion and Choices, Catherine Sonquist Forest, M.D. (Nov. 21, 2022)

[iv] Id.

[v] Health & Safety Code, End of Life Option Act 443 - 443.22 (Jun. 9, 2016)

[vi] Compassion and Choices, Catherine Sonquist Forest, M.D. (Nov. 21, 2022)

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