The letter "Death with dignity is not suicide" (Sept. 5) tries to resurrect hopes for a failed assisted suicide bill in the state Assembly by twisting the term suicide.
Suicide is suicide — taking one's own life, whether at a young age or at an old age. Assisted suicide is enlisting someone else in the act — often a doctor of medicine, a profession historically committed to "do no harm."
Assisted suicide advocates prefer the presumptuous euphemism "death with dignity," as if suicide were somehow more dignified than battling a terminal disease. Assisted suicide lobbyists deploy euphemisms because Californians recognize the danger of promoting suicide under any guise. Sanctioning assisted suicide sends a dangerous message to any teenager momentarily despairing of life, any individual suffering from chronic depression, anyone caught in a seemingly insurmountable crisis.
Advocating suicide for terminally ill patients also sends a dangerous message to cost-conscious HMO's, government health care bureaucrats, and unscrupulous heirs. How quickly the right to die can morph into the duty to die.
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Terminally ill patients do not need euphemisms but honest communication and understanding, effective pain management and unconditional love — the kind that comes alongside the patient with true compassion and a commitment to care.
Vice President for Government Relations, Christian Medical Association - Washington Office