As a former three-term state representative in New Hampshire, I was alarmed to see that Maryland is being urged to adopt an assisted-suicide law similar to those in Oregon and Washington state [“ Controlling the end of life ,” Local Opinions, July 6].
Four months ago, the New Hampshire House rejected such a law by a 219 to 66 vote. Many representatives in the Democratic-controlled House initially thought they were for the bill but became uncomfortable when they studied the issue further.
Contrary to promoting “choice” for older people, assisted-suicide laws are a prescription for abuse. They empower heirs and others to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives, especially when they have money. No assisted-suicide bill could correct this huge problem.
Nancy Elliott, Merrimack, N.H.
Dr. Ken Stevens wrote that a patient who asked for his aid in dying in 2000 is still alive 14 years later because he counseled her [“The danger of assisted-suicide laws,” letters, July 9]. I think this wonderful outcome was the result of the Oregon Death-With-Dignity Act .
Because the law was in place, the patient was comfortable bringing up the topic with her physician, who then appropriately dissuaded her. But what if the patient had chosen suicide, instead of aid in dying, without the benefit of discussions with her doctor and family? The law helped Dr. Stevens and his patient.
It would be presumptuous to second-guess the interaction Dr. Stevens described between his wife and her oncologist. If the law had been in place, perhaps the conversation that they found so offensive would not have happened.
The value of the law for all of us in Oregon is that it takes some of the loneliness out of the dying process because it facilitates healing conversations. For the vast majority of us, it’s not about taking a drug to die; it’s about being able to share our deepest fears and most poignant concerns with our doctor and our family.
Peter Reagan, Portland, Ore.