Letter: Suicide choice is an illusion

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This letter responds to Dr. Guerrero's letter referring to an upcoming assisted suicide bill, which he discusses in terms of providing patient choice. Last March, I did a legal analysis of two assisted-suicide bills that were pending in your legislature. I previously analyzed two similar bills introduced in 2009.

None of these bills assured patient choice or control over their deaths. For example, there was no required supervision over administration of the lethal dose. The death was not even required to be witnessed. This created the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who would benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent.

Even if he struggled, who would know? To view my most recent analysis, go here: www.choiceillusionvermont.org/p/2011-bills.html To view my prior analysis, see Physician-Assisted Suicide: "A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice," Vermont Bar Journal, winter 2011, available at www.vtbar.org/Images/Journal/journalarticles/winter2011/PhysicianAssistedSuicide.pdf .

Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation www.margaretdore.com

MARGARET K. DORE

Seattle, Wash.

Suicide bill has many checks and balances

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Re: Dr. Toffler's Oct. 10 letter to the editor: "Assisted suicide" is both a loaded and completely inappropriate term. When someone is medically diagnosed to die within 6 months, suicide is not an issue. How one feels about his/her impending death is paramount here.

Case in point: My mother suffered from emphysema for at least a decade before she died of congestive heart failure. She was terrified that she would suffer gradual suffocation, and let her family know that she wished to be able to end her life gently at some point. But this was in the late 1970s, when there was little we could do to lessen her panic.

What Dr. Toffler doesn't mention is that many Oregon individuals who explored "death with dignity" with their doctors ultimately decided not to follow through, because the sense of having some control in the matter eased their worst fears.

The pending Vermont Death with Dignity bill has so many built-in checks and balances, as does Oregon's policy, that it is virtually impossible to make a rash and lonely decision. This bill would have given my mother, and me as well, great peace of mind during her last very difficult years.

Please research this pending bill H.274 and S.103 and give it some earnest thought. I am for it.

JUDY KNIFFIN

North Bennington


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