Eric Shulzke interviews me about dementia and assisted death in a Deseret News article about the status of Utah’s end-of-life choices law

Photo credit: All photos in this post are by Scott Winterton, Deseret News.

In earlier posts and in VideoWest’s 2nd video of me and my family and how we are dealing with my growing dementia, I have lamented the fact that someone in the late stages of dementia cannot ever qualify to receive an assisted suicide under any of the current states’ right-to-die laws in the US: to be considered as a candidate for assisted death, a person must be “of sound mind,” and someone with dementia is by definition not of sound mind. The other qualification, that you must be within six months of death, is also not a criterion that can be fulfilled by most people with dementia–the date of our deaths are not as clear as that of a cancer patient, for example, even as we can no longer recognize our family or have other joys in life. I believe–and my family too–that a right-to-die law should respect the Advance Directives or other legal document in which someone with early-onset-dementia states that she is of sound mind and lays out criteria for what she considers a worthwhile quality of life. Once she reaches those criteria, as determined by her family, there is no reason that her earlier declaration should not be counted as a clear statement of her wishes. Such are some of the issues surrounding Utah’s and other US states’ attempts to pass right-to-die laws.

In the article to which I give the link below, Erik Shulzke discusses some of the complexities surrounding current debates about the law. Given the number of photos he has included of me and Peter, I think we are the article’s “poster children”: the question is what we represent: people who have deeply thought about these issues or two misguided souls who don’t value life.? I feel that Eric represented my position fairly and sympathetically–thanks so much, Erik! What do you, my friends/followers think?

Gerda Saunders who plans to do doctor assisted suicide in Europe poses for photos with her husband Peter surrounded by family photos in their Salt Lake City home on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Scott Winterton, Deseret News

Why one Utah woman is planning to end her life on her own terms