Contrary to claims by the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson in his Nov. 6 letter, “Two views on ‘death with dignity,’ ” a Journal of Medical Ethics study, “Legal physician-assisted dying in Oregon and the Netherlands,” “showed no evidence of heightened risk” for patients in “vulnerable groups,” including “the elderly, women, the uninsured . . . people with low educational status, the poor, the physically disabled or chronically ill, minors, people with psychiatric illnesses including depression, or racial or ethnic minorities.”
In addition, the Journal of Palliative Medicine concluded last year: “Oregon was the only state in the highest quartile of hospice use and the lowest quartiles of both very short and very long hospice enrollment. . . . It is possible the Oregon Death with Dignity Act has resulted in or at least reflects more open conversation and careful evaluation of end-of-life options, more appropriate palliative care training of physicians, and more efforts to reduce barriers to access to hospice care.”
Finally, a growing number of national organizations representing health-care professionals have endorsed or taken a neutral position on medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option. They include the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the American College of Legal Medicine, the American Medical Student Association, the American Medical Women’s Association and the American Public Health Association.
Herbert S. Gross, Rockville
The writer, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is chairman of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Committee on
Government Relations and Insurance.