Write a Letter to the Editor
A letter to the editor at your local publication is a great place to express your thoughts about medical aid in dying. Though printed editions are less common now, letters are also published online where they are easily shared. This makes it a great way to start conversations and build awareness about this issue in Ohio. Click here to jump to examples of our published Letters to the Editor.
How to Write a Letter to the Editor
1. Think about timing. Tie it to a current event or recent article.
Letters to the Editor are generally written in direct response to a recent story or in reaction to a current event. It helps your chances of publication if you can tie it to one of these. If you have an experience with a loved one who wanted this option but did not have it because of living in Ohio or if another state passes a law, sharing your story helps others understand the importance of this option.
2. Find out the word-limit constraint.
Letters to the Editor often have a word limit of around 200 words. Check your local publication’s website for its rules; links to the “submit an editorial” pages for some major Ohio publications can be found to the left. It is also possible to submit a longer Op-Ed (generally a longer opinion piece that appears opposite the editorial page), though these pieces are sometimes reserved for well-known individuals or experts who are not part of the editorial staff. However, if you are personally facing a terminal illness, or have faced a loved one’s terminal illness, you are an expert on the subject and your opinion and thoughts are important.
3. Write your letter. Reach out to us if you need help at Info@OhioOptions.org.
Your thoughts and experiences are the most compelling. Everyone’s story is different, but there is always something that another person will be able to relate to. Do not shy away from being very descriptive and specific. Below are some facts and focus areas you may want to include in your letter. Below is a sample letter you can use as a guide to get started (the trickiest part of any writing task.) We are also here to help you share your story if you would like.
Focus Areas- Choose 1 or 2
- Your or a loved one’s personal story facing a terminal illness.
- The peace that this option can bring to those who are suffering, even if they ultimately decide not to use it.
- The concepts of self-determination and autonomy at the end of life that this law would allow.
- The safeguards and protections that are part of every medical aid in dying bill. There have been no cases of abuse reported in the over 25 years since these laws have been passed in states around the country.
- Participation in and use of the law is fully optional by patients and healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
- Ohions may now travel to Oregon or Vermont to qualify for and obtain the prescription medication. However, they may not return to Ohio to ingest it because they may put loved ones who supported them in legal jeopardy. Ohio should have its own Medical Aid in Dying law for the terminally ill.
Facts- Choose 3 or 4
- Ohioans do not have access to Medical Aid in Dying though there are laws allowing access in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C. It is allowed in Montana through a state supreme court decision.
- A survey completed by Public Policy Polling in May 2018 showed that 69% of Ohio voters, across religious affiliations, supported a medical aid in dying law in Ohio.
- 90% of those in Oregon using the law (over the last 25+ years) have also been enrolled in hospice. It is an option in addition to hospice and palliative care.
- Two physicians must certify the patient has a terminal illness and is expected to die within six months.
- Advanced age and disability do not qualify as terminal illnesses. The law is not available to those with dementia (who are not mentally competent) or to the elderly (who do not have a terminal diagnosis).
- The person seeking the prescription must be competent to make the decision and must be able to ingest the medication themself.
Published Letters to the Editor and Opinion pieces
- Death with dignity a personal choice by Lisa Vigil Schattinger on Dispatch.com on July 23, 2022 (scroll down to the sixth letter in the section)
- Ohio Needs a Medical Aid in Dying Law by Kathryn (Muffy) Kaesberg on Cleveland.com on February 02, 2022
- Opinion: Give terminally ill more options by passing a medical aid in dying law by Ann Schuur on April 20, 2022
- Consider U.S. models for medical aid in dying, not Canada’s by Lisa Vigil Schattinger on Cleveland.com on November 24, 2021
- Ohioans need access to legal end-of-life options such as medical aid in dying: David Goodman on Cleveland.com on April 23, 3021 (an Opinion piece)
- Ohio needs an end of life options law by Vikki Miller on Cincinnati.com on April 15, 2020 (4th of 5 letters in the Letters section)
- Lisa Vigil Schattinger at Cleveland.com on March 12, 2020
- Sue Corfman in the Akron Beacon Journal on August 25, 2019
- Lisa Vigil Schattinger at Cleveland.com on September 18, 2019
- Ann Rowland at Cleveland.com on June 25, 2019 (an Opinion piece)
- Lisa Vigil Schattinger at Cleveland.com on December 9, 2014 (an Opinion piece)
Letter to the Editor
I was with my father when he died after living with and being treated for cancer for years. After enrolling in hospice, he said that he would feel comforted knowing that he would be able to control his death if his suffering grew too great. But because Ohio does not have a Medical Aid in Dying law, he did not have that option.
There are now nine states and the District of Columbia with such laws. That means that many terminally ill people in the U.S. can seek and obtain a prescription that they can take themselves to die peacefully. The laws have many safeguards to ensure that the person is acting voluntarily and only the dying person decides whether to seek the prescription, whether to fill it, and whether to use it.
Ohioans should have access to medical aid in dying. Polling in 2018 showed that a bipartisan majority of Ohioans favor such legislation, no matter their religious beliefs. My father would have liked to decide when to die when his suffering got too great. I would like to have held his hand as he died peacefully and according to his wishes.
Short description of yourself