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Letter to the editor: If passed, Measure 1 could affect end-of-life plans

Last December I held my grandmother’s hand as she took her last breath in the Alzheimer’s unit of her nursing home. It was by far the most difficult but also among the most special moments that she and I have ever shared. As she passed away peacefully with her favorite Raggedy Ann doll snuggled up close to her chest, I felt thankful not only that I could be by her side, but also that her do-not-resuscitate order would be respected by the incredible staff who had cared for her for several years.

I fear that if Measure 1 is passed in November, it will be impossible for those very same nurses and doctors to respect the final wishes of those who are passing from this world. It will be impossible for them to allow surviving family members to say goodbye when they and their loved ones are ready to do so.

Measure 1 — which will permanently change the North Dakota Constitution — states, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” If passed, this measure will have real and far-reaching effects on end-of-life plans. It will put medical professionals in danger of legal reprisal for honoring living wills and do-not-resuscitate orders.

Those who put Measure 1 on the ballot did so with the explicit intent to outlaw all abortions with no exceptions. However, their vague and poorly-worded measure will have serious consequences for all North Dakotans who are faced with deeply personal end-of-life decisions. Those standing behind Measure 1 will tell you that they are “pro-life,” but they seem to have forgotten to that respecting life also includes allowing the living to die with dignity. I cherish the last moments I shared with my beloved grandmother, moments that would not have been possible if the “personhood amendment” had been part of the North Dakota Constitution. I urge you to vote no on Measure 1 in November.