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Letter: Allow terminally ill to die with dignity

Allow terminally ill to die with dignity

In the May 15 Another Voice column on assisted suicide, Philip Reed, a philosophy professor at Canisius College, states that “aid in dying” is a euphemism for assisted suicide. Rather than engaging in rhetorical parsing of terminology regarding death and dying, and citing the New York State Appellate Court legal decisions, a more compassionate and humane approach to this controversial issue is needed.

Continuing life that has, for all intents and purposes, already ended by refusing the suffering person’s right to die is inhumane. Pets, farm and zoo animals deserve and receive more compassion in our society.

More progressive states – Oregon, California and Vermont – have end-of-life laws. The U.S. Supreme Court, even with its majority of conservative justices, has ruled these laws constitutional. The legal reasoning used in the New York State Appellate Court cited by Reed would, in all likelihood, be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court if challenged.

The administration of end-of-life laws requires checks and controls to prevent abuse of “assisted suicide” by patients, their families and medical professionals. These safeguards protect all concerned. Patients can rescind the request at any time.

Organizations that support this law also foster other end-of-life alternatives – palliative care, hospice and reduced use of hospital intensive care units in cases where there is no hope of a patient’s recovery. Dying with dignity is as important a right as living. The bill before the New York State Legislature deserves our support.

Pauline Dyson