Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

When Horrific Choices are Required May 2004

This is the floor speech I delivered in response to Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch's HB25 "5 Wishes" bill on end of life care. It explains why I voted against the bill.

Mr. Speaker:

Before I say another word, I here to tell you how much I appreciate the sponsor of this bill, the representative from Juneau – the tall one! He has worked very hard on this bill, both in this body, and in the other body. I’m pleased to tell you that HB 25 is much improved from the version I looked at last session. Many of the concerns I had previously have been addressed – and I want to thank the sponsor for listening and acting.

Mr. Speaker, this bill addresses subjects that are uncomfortable to all of us. If they were not uncomfortable, we wouldn’t be normal. I’ve personally suffered the pain of seeing my mother come down with cancer as the result of smoking. She had to suffer a larynxtomy – the removal of her voice box - so that she had to breathe through a hole in her neck, and when she cried, her cries were silent. Eventually she lapsed into a coma, and during that coma she received intravenous food and hydration and, of course, she eventually died, and I was at her bedside when her last faint pulse stopped – and then, and only then, we removed the tubes that delivered the comfort of food and water. Many of us, especially people my age, have been through that kind of personal experience. I don’t recommend the experience. But most of us will experience it, at one time or another, or our spouse will experience it.

When those horrific experiences occur, if we have any humanity at all, we question our core beliefs, we question our ethics, our morality, our education, our religion, our common sense, we question everything, and all those questions battle each other for an answer. If we’re normal, we suffer very mixed emotions. We want to be true to our loved one, and be also true to right and wrong, as God gives us the ability to determine such things.

This bill, HB 25, attempts to guide us through these horrific end-of-life decisions. As I said previously on some other bill, we don’t make perfect law here, because we’re not perfect. The Perfect Lawmaker isn’t a member of this body – but of course, many of us do believe there is in fact, a Perfect Lawmaker. But He’s “up there,” not “down here.” This bill is the result of an honest and sincere attempt, by an honest and sincere representative, to craft a – “quote” – “good” bill. And much of the bill is, in fact, good. And I thank the sponsor for that.

I wish I could vote for HB25, but I can not - because I can not, personally, within my belief system, condone removing nutrition and hydration from a dying person, or inflict $10,000 in civil damages to someone who refuses to stop providing food and water.

We cast some tough votes down here. Good people, for whatever reason, can understand things differently, and reasonable people know that. That’s why there are forty of us elected to this chamber, not just one. I have to vote where my conscience is, and I’ll be voting no.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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