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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 28, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Death with Dignity: Don’t deny others relief

In response to the letter “It is unethical” [Northwest Voices, Oct. 26], I would simply say, “Tell that to the suffering ALS patient, doomed to die an extremely horrible death, who can’t even avail themselves to ending their misery because they wouldn’t be able to self-administer.”

People who are going to die in this way need some relief from their suffering. This isn’t about some willy-nilly decision to commit suicide for no reason. I see Brittany Maynard’s situation as a good example of the need for some form of “Death With Dignity.” Surely she wishes to live but that’s not in her future.

I have witnessed up close a good friend’s horrible, choking death from ALS. And the wife of this man now has PTSD from the care she valiantly tried to provide her dying husband. Many times, the people who qualify to receive the drugs to end their life don’t use them and die naturally. It’s just the comfort they have knowing if things get unbearable, they have relief at their bedside.

If you don’t approve of some form of “Death With Dignity,” don’t avail yourself to it. But don’t deny others of this mercy. Also, doctors are known to “help along” a dying patient who has no hope of recovery or a mitigation of their pain. This happens. Assisted suicide is not for everyone and shouldn’t be granted to just anyone for any reason. Forget the “slippery slope” in this argument.

Richard B. Ellenberger, Normandy Park

Comments | More in Health | Topics: Brittany Maynard, Death with Dignity, Doctor-assisted suicide

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