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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 17, 2008 at 2:01 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity / assisted suicide

Do they really need approval?

Initiative 1000 would give despondent people no power they do not now have, but would implicate us all in their decision to kill themselves [“How we die: the Oregon experience,” page one, Oct. 13].

According to the Washington state Department of Health, “814 Washington State residents died by suicide” in 2005. They evidently did so without interference from the government, politicians and religious leaders against whom the proponents of I-1000 warn us.

Anyone capable of self-administering lethal drugs, as the initiative specifies, is capable of killing himself without a doctor’s prescription.

I-1000 would add only one element: our approval.

If the law and the public say suicide is all right, such “legitimacy” may well be the final argument that convinces a sick person to end his life, especially when the prestigious medical profession seems to endorse such a choice.

This initiative offers less than nothing to the sick, but would make us all complicit in despair.

I hope the people of Washington reject it.

— James O’Callaghan, Maple Valley

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