Local man advocates for “Death with Dignity” laws in Mississippi

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Scott county officials are investigating after a woman is killed and her husband attempts to take his own life. Authorities say it may have been a murder-suicide attempt in order to make sure the elderly couple weren’t a burden on their family.

It was a tragic scene that some say could have been avoided if more states allowed so-called “death with dignity” laws.

WJTV 12’s Margaret-Ann Carter spoke with a local man who has spent much of his life advocating for the availability of physician-assisted death.

“Part of the argument and the justification is so we won’t be a burden on those behind,” Dr. Clyde Morgan said.

Clyde Morgan has spent much of his life studying criminal justice and education. He is also a member of national organizations like “Death with Dignity” and “Final exit Network” that advocate for physician-assisted death.

Morgan says finding eternal peace shouldn’t be so hard, but for many elderly and terminally ill patients it’s what leaves them resorting to extreme measures.

“There are a small growing group in America, I think, that is willing and mature enough to face the inevitable and do it with class and not drag it out,” Morgan said.

There are 7 states and the District of Columbia where physician-assisted death is legal for someone who is terminally ill with less than 6 months to live.

Even in those states there are several safe guards put into place for the patient. However Morgan says fear is what keeps other states from following suit.

“Just because somebody might misuse or abuse a law doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have the right to do a certain thing lawfully,” Morgan argues.

For years Morgan watched his parents suffer from Alzheimers as their mind and bodies faded away. He says they faced a painful death he wished he could have taken from them.

“We have the freedom, the right to vote, the right to do this, to do that, if I don’t have the right to end my life when I want to and under the conditions I want to, I’m not free. The government has that right, the government says when I will die, and I think that’s highly unjust. This is my life, I will die when I want to die,” he explained.

With tears streaming down his face he spoke candidly about how, without the comfort of physician-assisted death, he is prepared to face the inevitable, but only on his terms.

“When I feel like the doctor can’t help anymore and it’s inevitable, then I have to start cutting back on the fluids that I take and the food that I eat, and then at some point tell the doctor take it all away, I’m not eating I’m not drinking. I don’t know if I can do that or not but that’s the only option I think I have,” he explained.

In a recent study the Final Exit Network found that 72 percent of adults said a doctor should be allowed to end a patients life by some painless means at the patients request.

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