Co-authored with John Jalsevac
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, August 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A recently retired New York Times reporter has penned a book in which she details how she followed through on a shocking pact to help her 88-year-old mother, Estelle, starve to death.
In an excerpt from the book, “A Bittersweet Season,” published recently in the Daily Mail, Jane Gross describes her mother’s increasing dissatisfaction with life as her health deteriorated, and her mounting desire to die, despite the fact that she was not terminally ill.
“So here we were, my mother and I, wishing that she were terminally ill and feeling a bit creepy about it,” Gross writes about her conversations with her mother about her death wish.
Gross admits that there “was no pretending I hadn’t been part of her decision [to die], and had arguably even encouraged it,” but argues that she made sure that her mother, with whom she had never been particularly close, was “doing this for herself,” and not out of a desire to spare her children “trouble and expense.”
Finally, after her mother spelled out the words “N-O-W,” Gross met with staff at the hospice where her mother was being cared for, and thus began the lengthy and grueling process of her mother’s death by starvation and dehydration – a process that staff had told Gross would only last a week, but that actually lasted 13 days.
“As the days passed, I watched the hands of the clock from my perch in a corner of my mother’s room,” she writes. “They seemed to have stopped moving. She soon became a curiosity, as staff stood in her doorway to watch the old lady who would not die. I accused staff of sneaking her ice cubes when my back was turned. I was twitching with impatience. I wanted my mother to hurry up and die, and was ashamed to admit it.”
Finally, Gross writes, “On the 13th day without food or water, my mother finally got her wish.”
In an interview with LifeSiteNews (LSN), Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, expressed his sorrow at Gross’ account, saying, “Sadly, the concept of dehydrating and starving a person death, whether it is done in a voluntary way or not, is becoming more common.”
“This sad article about the death of Estelle, is held up as an example of fulfilling the last request or ensuring that a person’s autonomy has been maintained,” he said. “The fact is that Estelle was abandoned in her death.”
“We need to make it clear that dehydrating people to death, who are not otherwise dying, is not only an abuse of good care, but also euthanasia by dehydration,” Schadenberg said. “The acceptance of euthanasia by dehydration leads to the acceptance of killing the most vulnerable in society. This abuse of the vulnerable cannot continue.”
Schadenberg said that Compassion & Choices, the group that lobbies for the legalization of assisted suicide in the U.S., recently published an article extolling the virtues of death by dehydration.
“The suicide lobby is using death by dehydration to break down the resistance to assisted suicide,” he said. “It is well known that once people have experienced someone dying by dehydration that, out of compassion for the dying, they will demand death by lethal dose.”