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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 5, 2008 at 5:10 PM

I-1000 — Death with dignity

Protect the doctors

Historically, people have resisted many social and medical advancements which over time have been shown to benefit society, such as: desegregation, women’s right to vote, polio vaccinations, fluoridation of the water supply, anesthesia during childbirth, organ donation, admission of Jews to higher education, the horseless carriage, etc.

Opponents of these new ideas argued that catastrophic outcomes would result. In each of these cases, not only have these feared outcomes not occurred, but history later judged these changes as progress.

I-1000, the “Washington Death with Dignity Act,” if passed, would likely be judged as a contribution to humanity in Washington state [“Initiative 1000 would let patients get help ending their lives,” Politics & Government,” Sept. 21].

The concept of a physician prescribing life-ending medication that the suffering patient might take during the last six months of life is a new concept for the medical profession, much as the social and medical changes were at one time.

The concept of a collaborative effort between the physician and terminally ill patient to plan the moment of death is new. However, this concept has been practiced throughout history, without the benefit of legal sanction.

Supporters of I-1000 want to provide legal protection for doctors and patients in situations which follow the safeguards provided by the proposed law.

— Elaine Gordon, Seattle

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