Oct. 5 was a great day for California! Compassion finally and fully became state law. I began my ministry opposed to any doctor hastening the death of a terminally ill person. But as the theoretical musings of seminary gave way to the difficult realities of living and dying, my heart and mind underwent a change. I witnessed death up close. Most deaths are a gentle passing. But some are torturous.
Wendy was a wonderfully vibrant 80-year-old quilter and crafter. Lung cancer had spread into her bones. I will never forget the day I stepped out of her room, along with her two daughters, to allow the hospice nurses to reposition her tiny, frail body in her bed. The screams of pain emanating from that room haunt me still. No amount of medication could relieve her suffering. Allowing a terminally ill patient to hasten their impending death (if they so wish) is humane, compassionate and caring. It is the ultimate respect for human life. It is a manifestation of love.
My religious faith affirms the worth and dignity of every human life. I am proud to live in a state that now does the same.
Rev. Tim Kutzmark, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno
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