ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to a question from Susan Buckley, a Compassion & Choices Action Network volunteer, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders yesterday said suffering, terminally ill people should have the option of medical aid in dying.
Sanders answered Buckley's question about if he supports medical in dying at a Seniors Decide 2016 forum developed by the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations so presidential candidates can discuss their policies and programs for older Americans. George Mason University hosted the forum at its Arlington campus. Below is the transcript of their exchange at 2:07:20 mark of video posted at: http://m.ustream.tv/recorded/83300285).
SUSAN BUCKLEY: "Senator, thank you for speaking with us today. Coming from the great state of Vermont, which has a great track record of end-of-life care options, I'm wondering what you think that can be done on the federal level to increase end-of-care options and improve end-of-care life, end-of-life care."
BERNIE SANDERS: "Well, I, you know, I am proud of how Vermont, uh, is a leader, frankly, in a number of areas, including end-of-life care. You know, this is, uh, a very emotional issue, obviously, and we have got to be extremely care, uh, careful about how those decisions are made. Uh, and I know the concerns of people who oppose, uh, this. But you know, I think if a human being is in a situation where they are going to see their life end in a short period of time, where they are suffering, where they choose no longer to be alive. I think they have the right to make that decision, uh, for themselves. And I think that's true, not just in Vermont, obviously, but all across the country."
Vermont is one of five states that authorize medical aid in dying as an option for mentally sound, terminally ill adults. The other four states are Oregon, Washington, Montana and California. In addition, bills authorizing medical aid in dying have been introduced in the District of Columbia and 25 states since last year.
Two weeks ago, Jim Kinhan, an 81-year-old volunteer for Compassion & Choices Action Network who wrote an oped about his stage 4 colon cancer published in the Concord Monitor, asked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a similar question during a CNN presidential candidate town hall. Below is the transcript of their exchange at the 11:16 mark of video posted at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=40YP1zo8umc).
JIM KINHAN: "…I wonder what leadership you could offer within an executive role that might help advance the respectful conversation that is needed around this personal choice that people may make, as we age and deal with health issues or be the caregivers of those people, to help enhance and -- their end of life with dignity."
HILLARY CLINTON: "…this is the first time I've been asked that question .… And I thank you for it, because we need to have a conversation in our country .… So it is a crucial issue that people deserve to understand from their own ethical, religious, faith-based perspective .… I want, as president, to try to catalyze that debate because I -- I believe you're right, this is going to become an issue more and more."
"Millions of Americans share Susan's and Jim's wish that their dying reflect their spiritual beliefs and lifelong values, and that it be a peaceful memory for those who love them," said Compassion & Choices Action Network President Barbara Coombs Lee, who was an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years. "What people really need is greater agency and access to information and options as the end of life approaches. And they want our national and state policy makers to address this need."
The Compassion & Choices Action Network, a 501 (c) (4) organization, engages in direct and grassroots lobbying and independent expenditure efforts to pass fair and just laws to improve care and expand choice at the end of life.