Two events this weekend will deal with how Iowans handle death and dieing. A workshop today (Saturday) in West Des Moines is titled “Silence is Not Golden,” and a guest speaker’s the president of the Hemlock Club. Saye Girsch explains the organization advises people on how to make plans and arrangements to end their lives when they’ve decided it’s time. She says there are a lot of members of the national organization in Iowa, and they’re hoping to organize the first Iowa chapter this weekend, and perhaps small local ones as well. Girsch says we’re living longer and dying of chronic diseases that mean a long and agonizing death. People don’t look forward to years of helplessness in a nursing home with no way out, so that’s why some demand an alternative to living “till the last breath.” The movement has sparked many developments the last 20 years like Advanced Directives for what a patient wants done, hospice care, and the right to refuse treatment…though if they’re not at the point of getting or refusing life-support, there are still few choices for someone to die peacefully. Girsch says while some may fear their loved ones will be pushed into choosing assisted suicide, a law allowing it in Oregon is full of safeguards, including signoffs by three separate doctors. Girsch says the Hemlock Society respects the beliefs of people who want to let death come naturally but want them, in turn, to respect others’ rights to end their suffering peacefully with no risk of interference or prosecution for their loved ones. Sunday in Marshalltown Iowans hold an organizing meeting for the state’s first chapter of the Hemlock Club.
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