Regarding the Feb. 21 editorial “Choosing death with dignity”:

There was a failure to consider some of the real dangers of assisted suicide as public policy. Our profit-driven health-care system disadvantages some more than others, especially people who are seriously ill, of advanced age, living with disabilities or economically disadvantaged.

When it comes to assisted-suicide policy, abuses have occurred, with these groups suffering first. Take Barbara Wagner in Oregon, for example, whose insurance company refused to pay for her lung- cancer drugs but readily agreed to cover drugs that would kill her under Oregon’s assisted-suicide law. Randy Stroup was denied coverage in Oregon for his chemotherapy drugs, and coverage for assisted suicide was offered instead. Is anyone surprised that insurance companies invariably choose to cover the cheapest option? For those already navigating the health-care system at a disadvantage, this is dangerous public policy that, for them, reduces choice.

Matt Valliere, New York

The writer is executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which opposes assisted suicide.

Maryland’s End-of-Life Option Act would allow terminally ill patients with a projected six months or less to live to ask their doctors for a prescription that would end their lives peacefully. This legislation includes adequate protections, eligibility requirements and conditions to protect vulnerable populations. Patients with intellectual disabilities, dementia or mental illness, as well as those unable to physically self-administer the prescription, are not eligible to receive it.

A combined total of 40 years of data from states and localities that now have this option have shown not a single documented case of abuse or coercion and no slippery slope or negative consequences predicted by the opposition. The law makes it a felony to attempt to persuade or coerce a patient to use it; doctor participation is voluntary. 

Suffering terminal patients in Maryland could have the option of a peaceful, dignified death, surrounded by their loved ones, at a time and place of their choosing.

Cathy Larner, Annapolis