Readers React

Individuals, not churches or the state, should make end-of-life choices

To the editor: Regarding George Skelton's essay affirming the personal choice that we should all be able to make regarding end-of-life decisions, I note the usual reference to the Catholic Church's opposition. This is consistent with the Church's vehement opposition to legislation that affects other important personal choices. ("How we die should be a personal choice, not the government's," Feb. 22)

Fine. However, I would request that the church leaders, who continually oppose legislation that would allow non-Catholics to make their own decisions, desist from using the legislative process unless they give up their tax-free status.

Catholic (and other) religious institutions seem to want it both ways: 1st Amendment rights that let them stay tax free, and also direct interference in the law-making process that crucially affects the rest of us. These institutions should admit that they are, in effect, political action committees.

Jan Rainbird, Irvine

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To the editor: "He lost his fight."

This is what we read in the obituaries and what we hear at funerals. Other words such as "courageous," "gallant" and "valiant" also show up in the obits.

Patients are expected to fight the heroic fight even though it's a dehumanizing fight they can't win. The patient often has to deal with people who love him who tell him to keep fighting — and maybe a miracle will happen or a cure may be just around the corner. He shouldn't let them down by "giving up."

Along with the terminal illness, the heroism we demand and the endless medical interventions are terrible burdens to place on a patient. Dying is difficult enough without having to satisfy the image of a warrior.

We do a disservice to everyone with a terminal illness by using heroic terminology. Let's start to be realistic about terminal diseases and not obligate the patient to suffer even more because of the words we use.

Sid Adelman, Sherman Oaks

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