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Letters: The case against assisted suicide

Re "A chilling end-of-life case," Column, Nov. 6

Steve Lopez did not mention why assisted-suicide legislation failed three times in deep-blue California.

A broad coalition of disability rights organizations, independent living groups, doctors and civil rights groups stands steadfast in opposition. These organizations can hardly be said to take their lead from the Roman Catholic Church.

Victoria Kennedy, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's widow, penned an article in opposition to assisted suicide shortly before voters in Massachusetts rejected such legislation in 2012.

Dr. Ira Byock, director of palliative care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, put it bluntly in the Atlantic last year: "I am convinced that legalization of physician-assisted suicide is something my fellow progressives should fear and loathe."

Where it is legal, assisted suicide gives heirs and abusive caregivers more opportunities for abuse. It's been shown to allow people who are depressed to receive lethal drugs. Its safeguards are hollow.

And it is unnecessary: Dying people in significant discomfort may legally receive palliative sedation, in which they are sedated while their underlying disease causes a natural death.

Marilyn Golden

Berkeley

The writer is a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

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