Kentucky man shoots wife with late-stage breast cancer, reportedly at her request "to end her suffering"

"I shot her," Ernest Chris Chumbley, 48, told a local television news program from jail in Laurel County, KY Wednesday. He was speaking about his wife, who had late-stage metastatic breast cancer. "She died from my shots, but it's not murder."

More at USA Today. From the local TV news report, which is heartbreaking, and indicates Mrs. Chumbley's husband was carrying out "her last wish"--

Chumbley admitted to killing his wife, but said he was just doing what she asked him to do. "She told me to end the pain, stop the pain," said Ernest Chumbley. From the Laurel county jail, Chumbley said through tears he killed his wife. "Did I want to do it? For her I did. No, I don't. I didn't want to do it," he said.

I'm no judge or jury, and I do not know what happened in this case. But I can absolutely understand a tragic death like this happening among people with limited options and knowledge about end-of-life care, and poor available medical resources to cope with late-stage pain in cancer. As horrible as it sounds, it is conceivable to me that it may not have been murder, but a consensually-agreed-upon escape from pain.

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  1. ERR says:

    It's so strange to me that we don't even allow our pets to suffer in their final days, but we're still having a debate on whether people should.

  2. It's sad we live in a barbaric society that doesn't allow people to make their own informed choices about how they wish to end their lives or cope with their suffering. I have suffered from severe chronic pain for decades and I am now severely debilitated from the toll that torture has taken on my body. In the end I plan to shoot myself as well as I am denied the means to either treat my pain or end my life in a more humane manner.

    Medical treatment for pain in the US is a joke as few doctors are willing to do what is necessary to relieve their patients' pain, and those that are often make you jump through hoops for years or exploit the hell out of you before they'll do what works.

    Our medical system is not designed to provide compassionate relief for people who suffer, but to exploit them financially, particularly at the end of life. Hospice is not all it's cracked up to be and many people suffer from acute physical and psychological distress while their deaths are unnecessarily prolonged. The idea that all you need to cope with the pain and existential angst of impending death is drugs and therapy is disturbed. Far better that people be allowed to opt out in the manner of their own choosing at at the time they feel they are most prepared to face death.

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