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SAN DIEGO — Relatives say 88-year-old Alan Purdy doted on his ailing wife, caring for her in a custom-built home north of San Diego through several years of sickness. Now, he's been arrested on suspicion of helping her kill herself.
The couple's son-in-law John Muster said it wasn't the first time li (sic) wife Margaret "Jo" Purdy, 84, had tried to commit suicide.
"She had mentioned for some time that she was under a great deal of pain and that this was a very hard life," Muster said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Berkeley. "It was a great life. I loved her dearly and I'm sorry she's gone. I'm not going to second-guess her choice."
The Purdys were close friends for many years and proved a perfect match when they married later in life, relatives said.
"They walked hand in hand," said James Purdy, a brother.
"They were very affectionate people," said Lois Purdy, a sister-in-law.
Margaret Purdy kept a close eye on her husband, who lost much of his hearing. He, in turn, watched after her as she battled a series of ailments in recent years.
Alan Purdy, a pilot with a doctorate in biomedical engineering, built several homes and airplanes and worked for years at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Muster said. He was an expert at safety conditions on underwater oil rigs and researched questions like how much vibration a person could tolerate inside a truck.
Lois Purdy called him a "Renaissance man."
Alan Purdy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of aiding a suicide after paramedics found his wife dead inside their home in San Marcos, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said. He was released on $15,000 bail.
Margaret Purdy had a bag over her head and died from asphyxia, said Michael Ellano, an investigator for the San Diego County medical examiner's office. The death was ruled a suicide.
Measure 16 of 1994 established the U.S. state of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act (ORS 127.800-995), which legalizes physician-assisted dying with certain restrictions. Passage of this initiative made Oregon the first U.S. state and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to permit some terminally ill patients to determine the time of their own death.
Under the law, a capable adult Oregon resident who has been diagnosed, by a physician, with a terminal illness that will kill the patient within six months may request in writing, from his or her physician, a prescription for a lethal dose of medication for the purpose of ending the patient's life. Exercise of the option under this law is voluntary and the patient must initiate the request. Any physician, pharmacist or healthcare provider who has moral objections may refuse to participate.
"I want to meet my maker in peace
I want to feel alive again
so put that smile back on my face, and mix it strong my friend.
'cause I can't feel my face, I won't struggle on, in a world so cold, in a world so wrong.
I'm not running away, been fighting this so long
such a price that we pay, we've got to be so strong
gonna take my life tonight, 'cause I have the right to die how I wanna, and leave how I arrived
But the state has a responsibility to make us a life-affirming society, rather than a death-affirming society. If dying becomes "too" acceptable, then you have doctors deciding that some patients are not worth the effort, that some people are too old or too stupid or too ugly to keep on living.
IF we as a society don't "Fight Death" with all our best effort, we end up making our peace with death, especially the people we like less---minorities, the unwanted, the poor, disabled, etc.