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Two letters concerning the proposed Death with Dignity bill appeared on Feb.28, which need rebuttal, "Don't repeat mistake, stop assisted suicide bill," and "Patients need care, not means to end life." Dr. Kenneth Stevens relates absurd and incompetent advice given his wife, and about a patient, whom he quite rightly counseled against suicide. He blames the Oregon law.
The second, by Dr. Williams Toffler asserts that in Oregon the definition of "terminal" has become meaningless.
Both are irrelevant to the pending bill.
The fact that a physician might give bad advice, or a patient misperceive her own situation does not argue against allowing the terminally ill to have control over their own end. Were we to accept this argument, there would be no legislation at all for fear that someone would abuse or misconstrue the law.
Secondly, data published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 about the operation of similar laws in Oregon and Washington state show no instance of self-termination of life by anyone because of dependence on insulin, as Dr. Toffler claims.
In Washington and Oregon since 1997, 34 cases are listed as "respiratory cases." Such patients can suffer horribly at the end. "Terminal" is strictly defined in the bill to prevent its abuse.
The dying have rights and deserve our compassion.