Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Open letter to Rep. Buckingham

Rep. Mike Buckingham is on the House Judiciary Committee, which will be reviewing SB 74/75/76 soon. Here's the initial Senate committee hearing in RealPlayer worth listening to if you are following this bill.

Re: Medical decisions bills

Dear Rep. Buckingham,

I urge you to consider supporting these good bills. They have been put together not by some liberal or conservative think tank but by professionals in South Dakota that deal with these issues on a day to day basis and are asking for your help. I was the one at the Cracker Barrel last week that asked Sen. Schmidt about these bills, and was frankly surprised by Sen. Napoli's comments about his worry about the patient's long-lost drinking buddy "Bob" of 50 years ago getting to make medical decisions. These bills not only put "close friends" wishes last in the list of seven categories, but Sen. Napoli's example of "Bob" would fail both the explicit tests in the SB74 definitions--even if there was no family to help make medical decisions, "Bob" would not have that right under this law. This was well described in the testimony given, which I have listened to on the web and recommend to you.

This is a good and compassionate set of bills that try to make these decisions more ethically sound, not less. This is not about "convenience" or "economics" but a way to try to help us avoid making an ethically wrong decision by prematurely ending care, or on the other hand, 'Playing God' by prolonging life and suffering with medical technology long past the time natural death would have occurred. These are not easy decisions either way. This law would make the authority clearer when we face them.

Thanks for your consideration of these bills.

Curtis Price
Rapid City

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