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Letter: Listen to Hoppe’s message; enact medical aid in dying

I was saddened to learn that Bernadette Hoppe had died, “The final message from Bernadette Hoppe, who advocated for “medical aid in dying” (Mar. 22, News).

She, like all terminally ill, mentally competent, adult patients, should have had the option of medical aid in dying, which may have provided her a more peaceful death.

The assertions by opponents that “the issue is fraught with individual and societal risk;” and “asks physicians to move into dangerous areas of interpretation and creates a “slippery slope” in which mistakes could be made and life devalued, especially for the most vulnerable.” are very wrong.

Over 50 years of cumulative experience in states which allow medical aid in dying have shown that it is an ethical medical practice which is safe and benefits patients and families, while causing no harm.

Doctors are required to relieve suffering and they do this now in a variety of ways including helping to end the lives of willing, suffering

patients, by withdrawing life sustaining treatment, such as a feeding tube or ventilator. There is absolutely no evidence in the US of any kind of slippery slope now or in the making.

There is also no evidence of documented mistakes by any court or administrative agency. Nor is there any evidence that lives are devalued.

Medical aid in dying is rare, constituting only about four of every 1,000 deaths. A study concerning vulnerable patients found no disproportionate impact on numerous potentially vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, people without health insurance, people of color and the elderly.

Medical aid in dying laws work as intended. It is time for New York State to enact the Medical Aid in Dying Act.

David C. Leven

Executive Director Emeritus

Senior Consultant

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