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?
I do not believe voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill should be legal. I believe that life or death situations are not determined by man, but by God.
A doctor has no legal right to assist his patients in killing themselves, no matter how much that person wants to die. The mere act of setting up a "suicide machine" is wrong because it shows the patient that he has the right to take his own life and that the doctor is there to help him when he is ready.
I say leave the life or death situations to God. CAROLYN COVINGTON Forestville
To live according to personal doctrines and values is a right on which the foundation of American society is based. Voluntary euthanasia is simply an extension of that right. Granted, the loss of life in any case is tragic. However, the plight of the terminally ill ends only in death. Medically assisted suicide offers an alternate route from this degrading and losing battle. For many of these victims, dignity and the right to live or die is all they have.
The decision to end one's life has ben the source of controversy and conflict not only among individuals, but also between the government and the church. Caught up in this emotional struggle are the doctors who perform euthanasia. Although it directly conflicts with the Hippocratic oath, many have respected their patient's rights and in so doing, they provide a service of immense kindness and compassion. These doctors have recognized that life or death is not the decision of hospitals or even science, but rather of the person who must live that life. JENNIFER DELA ROSA Oxon Hill
In my opinion, it is the final decision of the patient as to when to die. Of course, the doctors know more, but it is the patient's choice. If I were ever sick to the point that others had to take care of me, feed me and do things for me, I would not want to live. At that point, I would be nothing but trouble for everybody else around -- I would not be the only one suffering. The people that love me would be, too, because of my pain. If there ever were a situation where I could not speak for myself, I would would very much like my parents or my spouse to do so for me, and help me stop my pain and their own. MANDANA TAVAKOLI Laurel
We are taught that the ultimate reward, the ultimate peace, the ultimate life is in heaven with God. Yet our religious teaching tells us that to achieve this reward, we must wait to be called, and who decides when we shall be called? Doctors take oaths to preserve life at all costs. The real question is whether we preserve life or quality life.
I firmly believe that the quality of life is essential. If a person has deteriorated in health or senility to the point at which he is kept alive by artificial means, this is not quality life, and he should be unplugged. However, if life is sustained on its own, then I believe that where there is life, there is hope. NIKKI FRUSH Vincent Palotti
I think that voluntary euthanasia is very wrong and should not be allowed. The patient might recover, or might not be in the right mental state to make a decision that will be a matter of life and death.
The Hippocratic oath says that no fatal drug or operation should be used or suggested by a doctor to a patient. The "suicide machine" clearly contradicts this. I know if I were very ill, I would not want to be asked to make this decision. KELLY SMITH Capitol Christian Students Speak Out: Topic for November 29
Which is more important in choosing a career: salary or personal fulfillment? What 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. 19 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 Nov. 29 editions of the Maryland Weekly.