In Response to: Lesley’s Story

Congratulations and thanks to Lesley McAllister for her openness about her cancer-caused decisions and her “Death With Dignity” attitude. Thanks also to Mark Bernstein for his sensitivity to the issues confronting Ms. McAllister and her family and writing about them.

Vermont is one of the states with a law that enables patients to decide to end their lives at a time of their choosing. I was glad to play a small part in getting that provision enacted into law by testifying before legislative committees about a Christian perspective that allows for that option.

Since June 2013, when it became legally permissible, there have been 30 prescriptions written for patients: two in 2013–14 (June to June), six in 2014–15, 16 in 2015–16, and so far six since June 2016. There are no records regarding how many patients have filled their prescriptions or used the resulting medications.

The significant point is that those patients with a prescription can fill them and use them at times of their choosing. As Ms. McAllister so eloquently says, “I’m pretty sure that I will go through the process to get the prescription. And then I could put it in my bedside drawer and wait to see if the right time to use it arises. It would comfort me to know that it is there when life’s meaning ... is overwhelmed by pain and disability” (emphasis mine).

The Rev. Alexander C. Zabriskie ’52
Burlington, Vt.