Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

Better care, not euthanasia, should be the goal of end-of-life treatment

I was dismayed to read Catherine Weber's letter calling for right-to-die legislation ("Right-to-die legislation needed in Maryland," July 1).

I am opposed to physician-assisted suicide not only in Maryland but throughout America. Hospice and palliative care can reduce the demand for those steps. Cicely Saunders, who founded the esteemed St. Christopher's Hospice in London, a treatment facility for dying patients, reported almost no requests for euthanasia when pain was significantly reduced and feelings of loneliness were addressed.

In the Netherlands, euthanasia was carried out before a law was passed legalizing it. But with the law, Dutch physicians committed euthanasia without patients' consent or approval by a second physician, even though they were required to get it. No wonder there are elders in Dutch nursing facilities who fear what their doctors might do without their consent.

Finally, our health care system, which is increasingly focused on cost-effectiveness, may be pushing patients down a slippery slope by identifying them as not having lives worth living. Indeed, with the corporatization of health care, we are witnessing many mercantile practices that threaten the professional ethics embodied in the Hippocratic Oath that have served us well 2,500 years.

Let's put to use the new understanding of hospice and palliative or comfort care that in recent years has created a meaningful paradigm shift for better end-of-life care.

William Reichel, Washington

The writer is affiliated with the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Fracking's public health hazards
    Fracking's public health hazards

    Recently I heard a West Virginia resident describe how fracking had changed her community. She had many photographs that were even more graphic than her verbal descriptions.

  • Pick up the pace of Md.'s absurdly low speed limits
    Pick up the pace of Md.'s absurdly low speed limits

    I was glad to read that Maryland is considering raising it's absurdly low speed limits ("Maryland Senate votes to raise maximum speed limit to 70 mph," Feb. 19)

  • War on heroin starts with teens
    War on heroin starts with teens

    Gov. Larry Hogan's focus on addressing the heroin epidemic ("Hogan creates two panels for fight against heroin," Feb. 25) is a testimony that the scourge of heroin and other substance addictions has garnered bipartisan concern. The next public policy strategy should translate this realization...

  • Online travel agency taxes needn't be so confusing
    Online travel agency taxes needn't be so confusing

    Much has been written about proposed legislation regarding how hotel taxes should be calculated for bookings through online travel agencies ("A room with a tax," Feb. 18).

  • Commercial fishing is regulated
    Commercial fishing is regulated

    Here's some things readers of The Sun should know about commercial fishing ("Rockfish poaching: It's more than just a few fish," Feb. 24). It is against the law to use gill nets in seven states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida. It is also...

  • Is O'Reilly delusional?
    Is O'Reilly delusional?

    Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said he was in the Falkland Islands "war zone." He wasn't. He said the riot in Buenos Aires was a "war zone." It wasn't ("Bill O'Reilly ratings rise in spite of allegations on his Falklands claims," Feb. 24).

Comments
Loading