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Letter: Patients’ rights are at risk in ND

As the daughter of a woman who suffers from chronic pain and deteriorating health, I stand against Measure 1 and believe that this bill will directly affect my mother’s quality of life.

In December of 1998, my mother was in a near-fatal car accident; little did she know that from that day on, her life would change forever. The terminal brain damage she suffered from her car accident progressed into a disease called multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, MS is a progressive disease that may one day leave my mother bedridden and unable to live independently.

MS affects many aspects of her life, causing immobilization, difficulty thinking and speaking, muscle spasms and chronic pain. My mother was accepted to a clinical trial where they installed a baclofen pump to eliminate the daily pain she experienced due to muscle spasms. Baclofen pump placement has certain risks and complications, including failure to obtain relief of spasticity, need for further surgery or even death.

If passed, Measure 1 would destroy this fundamental right of choice. It would also deny patients’ right to quality of life. If a person chose to take part in an experimental study, but were denied participation due to a potential health risk, they would be forced to endure chronic problems due to their illness.

What is at stake here is a patient’s right to choose. If Measure 1 were to pass, my mother and other individuals who suffer from chronic illness may not be given the choice of alternative treatment. Will they be forced to continue suffering despite their own wishes to pursue treatment that may carry risks? I ask you to join me in voting “no” on Measure 1.