Readers Respond: The new Dr. Death
This practice is not limited to terminally-ill people on the verge of horrible death with irremediable pain. Dr. Egbert and his associates have been prosecuted for their role in the suicide of an Arizona woman with mental illness who was not terminally ill.
Regardless of his intent, Dr. Egbert's actions sent the message that the life of a person with a disability does not have enough value to be preserved.
Had anyone aided the suicide of a person distraught over a personal tragedy, or someone despairing over racial discrimination she had endured, our collective outrage would be overwhelming.
Helping someone die because she is disabled does not spark the same outcry because many doubt that life is worth living if you have a disability. Many insidious practices our society condones reinforce this message, from our media depicting anyone living with a disability as "heroic" to hospital staff aggressively urging patients with disabilities to sign "do not resuscitate" orders.
Dr. Egbert's actions remind us that "assisted suicide" is not just a potentially slippery slope; it has already plunged us into the abyss.
Let us hope that Dr. Egbert learns from the disability rights movement that we support "dignity" and "respect" by valuing the lives of people with disabilities, not ending them.
Michael Dalto, Baltimore