CLEVELAND (AP) -- John Wise watched a tear roll down his wife's face as he stood alongside her bed in the intensive care unit. She'd been unable to speak after suffering a stroke and seemed to be blinking to acknowledge him, Wise confided to a friend who had driven him to the hospital.
The couple had been married 45 years and Wise told his friend that they had agreed long ago they didn't want to live out their years bedridden and disabled.
So a week after Barbara Wise's stroke, investigators say, her husband fired a single round into her head. She died the next day, leading prosecutors to charge the 66-year-old man with aggravated murder Wednesday in what police suspect was a mercy killing.
It brings up a lot of good points. First, killing is killing. He shot his wife, and while motive helps us understand, it doesn't change the fact that he committed murder. She could have been crying because she wanted to live. She may have recovered, given time. Even if this was a mercy killing, it was premature and unfair to both of them.The shooting leaves authorities in a dilemma some experts say will happen with greater frequency as the baby boom generation ages - what is the appropriate punishment when a relative kills a loved one to end their suffering?
But should it be murder? That's when it gets complicated in a hurry. It's been a while since I've taken this topic, so let me refresh my stance for new readers. I believe in supporting those who choose to go out fighting to the last breath if that is what they want to do. I also support ending suffering in a rational, dignified and well planned way if that is what someone wants to do when facing terminal illness. It's time we regained ownership of our lives, and the ability to declare our end of life wishes, free of what others want to impose on us. Our medical choices are our own. It's time for the law to allow us to make choices and put them down to be honored, in there with allergy information and other medical standards.
Also let it serve as a reminder that accidents happen. Pianos fall from skies, drunks drive at all times of day. If end of life decisions are important to you, handle it now. Don't just tell people what you want and hang the burden on them. Write it down, get it taken care of so the people who love you most aren't torn.
This is so sad from so many angles.