Mars Cramer [“Euthanasia was the right decision for my wife,” Health, Oct. 23] described the anguish of watching his wife become ill, her condition worsening until it reached the point where they decided that voluntary euthanasia was the best solution. Mr. Cramer is from the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal.

There are several reasons I hope that euthanasia will not be legalized across the United States. First, every human life is inviolable; no matter how impaired it is, every human life remains of great value. Intentionally ending an innocent life is wrong.

Second, we trust doctors to make decisions for our well-being; their purpose is healing. When a doctor, whose job is to heal and comfort, participates in killing a patient, trust between the doctor and other patients is jeopardized.

Third, commitment to palliative care and to protection of the sick and aged would better serve society. The American Geriatrics Society notes that legalization of euthanasia “may open the door to abuse of the frail, disabled, and economically disadvantaged, encouraging them to die prematurely, rather than to burden their families or society.” Life is not a burden, and it should not be seen as one. 

Lastly, euthanasia is not a good choice because it is a step on the slippery slope.Legalizing euthanasia could lead to acceptance of this practice for the comatose, demented or severely handicapped, and even for the competent without consent.

Mariah Naegele, Alexandria

When I die, I don’t want my obituary to read “after a long illness” or have my friends say how courageous I was or that my death “was a blessing.” I would like a quick and comfortable passing, as I’m sure most would — preferably during an afternoon nap.

Yes, I know about living wills, do-not-resuscitate bracelets, etc., and I have taken those steps. I also support my local hospice, which is wonderful, but in my opinion a death in hospice care can be too slow. A person should have the option while still in reasonably good health and of sound mind to stipulate what quality of life he or she does not wish to fall below. Of course, this would be done in consultation with a physician who, in many cases, would have known and cared for the individual for many years.

I suppose there would be immense obstacles to adopting in this country a system similar to that in the Netherlands, with many objections coming from vested financial or ideological sources. But I would like to see the individual (me) in control of his own destiny. The benefits to my family in terms of conserving limited resources would be significant, as would the benefits to my country in terms of avoiding skyrocketing end-of-life care under Medicare.

At the moment, I am 80 years old and enjoying life.

Terry C. Smith, Arnold