In Nov. 1 edition of Howard County High School Honors, Hammond student Brian Mack's "Students Speak Out" letter on the legality of euthanasia was miscopied. The final sentence should have read: "There should not be a law determining the legality of euthanasia." (Published 11/29/90)
Recently, a retired doctor was charged with setting up what has been termed "a suicide machine," to be used by a terminally ill patient. The device would trigger a lethal injection when activated by a control held by the patient. The doctor said that he simply gave the patient the final choice of when to die. Prosecutors said he was an accessory to the crime of suicide.
Do you believe voluntary euthanasia (medically assisted suicide) for the terminally ill should be legal? Should doctors be the ones to perform it? How does euthanasia relate to the Hippocratic oath? Is there any difference between the currently accepted "living wills," which limit the amount of care a patient wishes to receive, and euthanasia?
The right to live or die is up to the individual and should always be that way. If a patient is terminally ill, the decision to end life should be up to the patient, not to any doctor, lawyer or judge. If a person has no chance of survival from a terminal disease, euthanasia is a safe and practical way to end one's life. If euthanasia is chosen, it should be performed by a doctor because medically trained personnel know the limits of today's medications.
I believe that if a doctor prepares a "suicide machine" and a patient uses it, the doctor is not an accessory to suicide. There should be a law determining the legality of euthanasia. BRIAN MACK Hammond
As the controversy over voluntary euthanasia grows, so does public awarenes on the issue. Voluntary euthanasia was thrust into the public eye after a middle-aged woman used a "suicide machine" created by her doctor to kill herself. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and, rather than deteriorate gradually, she decided to die while she still had dignity.
Advocates of voluntrary euthanasia feel it is no different from the new "living wills" (videotapes of people saying how much medical care they want if they are so injured or ill that they "live" in a vegetative state). In living wills, essentially people are pulling their own plugs before they are hooked up.
I think that voluntary euthanasia should be allowed; it lets a person die when there is no hope of recovery, when they want to end the pain -- not when doctors say so. CARRIE LOUGHRY Atholton
I think that voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill should be illegal. I think it should not be in the doctor's power to let a patient decide when to die. Doctors take an oath to save lives and not to give a patient the chance to commit suicide. It is a doctor's job to save lives. By performing euthanasia, a doctor is not doing what doctors are supposed to do.
The terminally ill should be able to trust in their doctors. The patient should not be thrust into a decision of life or death while they are sick; they should live as long as they can. Euthanasia, in my opinion, is just as bad as murder and should be treated as a crime. Doctors should not be allowed to play God. No person should be given that right or power over someone's life. KELLY TUCKER Howard
In my opinion, euthanasia should be legal. It is not fair to make a person suffer indefinitely, not to mention what it does to their families. The cost of keeping a person in a hospital on machines is astronomical -- it is too much of a financial and emotional burden for most families to bear.
It should not be up to the government to decide something which will affect the lives of millions of people. Every situation is different and should be viewed differently. The decision of whether to "pull the plug" is one that should be made by each individual doctor and family, based on that particular situation.
Should the family of a dying patient decide that euthanasia needs to be performed, a doctor should be the one to carry it out. I do not feel that this is a violation of the Hippocratic oath because the doctor is simply doing what is best for the patient.
There is absolutely no reason for Congress to decide what will affect an individual. Are they willing to pay the hospital bills? Will they be the ones carrying the emotional burden? If not, the decision is not one the government should make. KIM SMITH Howard
I don't think voluntary euthanasia should be legal. Even though he may be suffering, the patient does not have the right to choose when he or she should die and I definitely do not think doctors should be the ones to perform it. They are just there to assist and help the patients in any way possible; that does not include deciding on a person's life.
Even though some patients are terminally ill, they must always hang in there until the end. A "suicide machine" is exactly what such a device is and it is a crime. Even though it might sound corny, some things you must do because they are the price of immortality. Everybody in the world dies, but it is not for anybody else to decide. MARVIN PLUNKETT Atholton
I do not believe that voluntary euthanasia should be legal. Our world is constantly producing new revolutions in the medical field making many problems less complex or totally extinct. No one can ever predict what will be discovered; penicillin was an accident. In the past hundred years, our technology has become so advanced that the even the moon has been explored.
When a person decides to pull the trigger, it may not be a result of thought but of depression. When a person finds that they are going to die sooner than they should, it can be a great shock. On an impulse, the terminally ill patient may think there is no other way but to end their life as fast as possible. The difference between "living wills" and euthanasia is that the living will is a decision the patient makes in advance and it does not make a "final decision." SEAN GLAZAR Hammond
Students Speak Out: Topic for November
Which is more important in choosing a career: salary or personal fulfillment? What will do you hope to achieve through your career choice?
Written responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. We are also interested in receiving political-style cartoons on the topic. Cartoons should be drawn on posterboard.
Students should submit their responses by Nov. 16 with name, age, grade and school included on the work to: High School Honors The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071
We will publish selected responses in the November editions of the Howard Weekly.