Update: the California End of Life Options Act passed in 2016.

Philip Monroe is a retired entertainer in Pacific Grove, California.

When my mother was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer at the age of 80, she was given five weeks to live. She was a career teacher, a bridge champion, the wife of a World War Two war hero, and an all-around outstanding citizen. Despite going downhill every day, she tried to continue taking care of her garden; one day I found her there weeping because she was running out of strength.

Philip Monroe as a baby with his mother

After multiple experiences with family and friends dying horrible deaths, she supported Oregon’s Death With Dignity law as her number one political issue. There was a window, shortly before her terrible death, when she was fully cognizant, and fully rational, at which point she could have made a decision to end her life with dignity. She believed she should have a say in how she died but a Death With Dignity law like Oregon’s was not an option in California. No human being should go through a final day like my mother had to endure. Our supposedly liberal state totally failed her.

We’re a Catholic, relatively conservative family. She did not agree and I don’t agree with the Church’s stance on this issue. Where do they get the nerve to sit in judgement of anybody? Everyone ought to have some control over their end while they still have a sound mind and a little bit of dignity left.