Iconic Nashville attorney John Jay Hooker is suing the state of Tennessee for the right to die peacefully and on his own terms. He has battled malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
Hooker, the self-proclaimed "Biggest loser in the history of Tennessee politics," states in his interview with News Channel 5:
I feel like that is the ultimate liberty, the right to die. There's no worse prison in the world than your own bed, racked with pain, facing death, and just lingering there, suffering, for the inevitable.
I believe the constitution of Tennessee specifically prohibits the legislature from interfering with my happiness or yours when it comes down to the right to die when you have reached the point that life is no longer worth living.
At some point in my life I figured out I had rather be a maverick challenging the government rather than being inside the government.
. . . a gadfly is someone who persistently challenges people in positions of power, the status quo or a popular position. For example, Morris Kline wrote "There is a function for the gadfly who poses questions that many specialists would like to overlook. Polemics are healthy."
During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato's writings, pointed out that dissent, like the gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. "If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me," because his role was that of a gadfly, "to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."
Brittany Maynard, faced with terminal brain cancer, made national news when she moved from California to Oregon to use that state's Death with Dignity Act to die peacefully without undue hardship for herself or her family.
Her husband Dan described the experience in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
When we woke up that morning there wasn't any heavy feeling or dark cloud-type scenario. We'll have breakfast... go on the hike...
After the hike...
She just knew that it was her time. The seizure that morning was a small reminder. She would talk in terms of she knew what she was risking (by waiting too long). If a seizure comes or worse yet a stroke, and that affects her ability, her motor and cognitive function, that she could not self-administer... because the patient has to drink...its 4 or 5 ounces of medication. And that was her real fear. She would be trapped in her own body and be forced to die exactly the way that she was trying to avoid.
There's the process of preparing the medication... The doctor had laid out the instructions. She'll take these about an hour before, and that just, kind of, settles the patient's stomach. There's another one that's taken 30 minutes before. But during that whole time there's conversation. Everybody's sharing stories, and, it is very tranquil. The mood in the house was very peaceful, very loving. She even asked, Tell me about a memory that you have, to the people in the room, to her friends. There were 7 people total in the room. And Bella, the little dog, was there in the bed with Brittany and I. And her friend that was a physician was there. The medication, we brought it in, and when she was ready...She actually wrote on Facebook a message to her friends, and... said I love you, to everyone, to me.
She drank the medication. Within 5 minutes she fell asleep. Very peaceful. Within 30 minutes her breathing slowed to the point where she passes away. And... it's... the most peaceful thing that you would ever expect or even want.
The thing that makes me feel ok, as well as her parents and her family, is that, she was in control of it. A determined individual who planned and thought everything through.
Death with Dignity should not be confused with the hospice and palliative care, as Pew Charitable Trusts points out.