Re "No Need for Dr. Death," by Harlan Hahn, Commentary, Nov. 26: The euthanasia depicted on "60 Minutes" was not for someone with a "disability." This man was terminally ill. Never has Dr. Jack Kevorkian or anyone advocated that physician aid in dying be available for people who happen to be disabled--it has always been discussed and legislated as a legal option for terminally ill people.
Like Hahn, I live with a disability. I enjoy life immensely, am active in tutoring and go camping in my RV frequently. If, someday, my multiple sclerosis advances to the point where I no longer can enjoy and participate in life in a way that makes life meaningful to me (not according to other people's opinions), I hope there is a legal means for helping me to finish my dying process.
Those of us who support physician aid in dying only want this option available for people who want to use it. If Hahn prefers to end his life suffocating, gurgling, hooked up to a ventilator, maybe a feeding tube, diapered, bedridden, so be it! But, for many people, this is not what we want for our end of life.
JUDITH A. BEAY
In criticizing the actions of Dr. Kevorkian, you call for better pain control for terminally ill people (editorial, Nov. 25). The reason that physicians fear to provide effective pain relief is that the Drug Enforcement Administration will yank the license of any doctor who, in the opinion of the DEA, prescribes too many painkillers--another consequence of the great war on drugs.
HARRY D. FISHER
Criticism of Kevorkian is lacking in logic, in my opinion. A battle is being fought. It's being fought on more than one front. Kevorkian is making his point his way. He's part of a movement. Why go out of your way to be critical of Kevorkian? You see all these other things that need to be done. Work more on them and less on being critical of a man who brings the issue to fore.
There is nothing wrong with how Kevorkian deals with patients. Too bad there aren't more doctors willing to "come out of the closet" and tell the world what can be done in this area.
As a hospice physician, I am appalled by what Kervorkian has done ("Kevorkian Videotape Subpoenaed by D.A.," Nov. 24). He is a madman who tried to convince us that death was the only solution to pain and suffering. He has no training or experience in direct patient care, especially terminally ill patients, yet he took it upon himself to play God. With appropriate care and therapy, virtually all pain and suffering can be managed and alleviated, both for the patients and the families. If we do not use any futile effort to prolong life unnecessarily, the patient will be able to die with dignity and comfort. The goals of any physician should be to encourage and assist the patients and families to cope with the illness in all aspects, from physical sufferings to psychological distress, rather than taking their lives away if they simply feel that their quality of life is not worthy of living.
THUAN L. TRAN MD