Prolonging someone's pain may violate 'do no harm'

To the editor: Does it ever occur to the doctor who quotes both the Hippocratic Oath and the Decalogue for support that keeping people who are dying alive against their will when they are suffering tormenting physical or mental pain is in fact "doing harm"? ("The problem with having a 'right to be killed,'" Readers React, Jan. 2)

You may well make a choice different than I would make at the end of life, but shouldn't that be up to you?


Moreover, as someone who is neither a Jew nor a Christian, quoting the Decalogue to me makes about as much sense as quoting "Jabberwocky." Oh, by the way, there is lots of perfectly OK killing in Exodus and Deuteronomy, the books in which the two very different versions of the 10 Commandments appear.

Gordon J. Louttit, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: In response to the two letters that oppose "death with dignity" laws, I have to note that the Hippocratic Oath and the 10 Commandments have routinely been ignored for thousands of years.

We certainly believe in the right to kill when we send young men and women into combat, armed and trained to kill. We believe in that right when we condemn criminals to a death sentence.

I would also add that a physician does not know his patient better than the patient himself or his family. By not assisting in ending the life of a greatly suffering person who declares a wish to die, a doctor is guilty of prolonging pain — certainly a less humane outcome.

Rachel Brezinski, Dana Point

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion