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State Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat, discusses Tuesday a bill that would legalize medically assisted suicide for terminally ill people in Maryland.
State Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat, discusses Tuesday a bill that would legalize medically assisted suicide for terminally ill people in Maryland. (Pamela Wood / The Baltimore Sun / BSMG)

I am writing to express opposition to a suicide bill for the state of Maryland based on two studies published on the National Institutes of Health website (“Amid tears, bowed heads, Maryland House of Delegates approves legalizing medically assisted suicide,” Mar. 7).

One contends that many of those who decide to end their lives prematurely are actually being influenced by treatable psychological conditions that can hasten their death. And another which found doctors only correctly estimated the prognosis of a terminally ill patient 20 percent of the time.

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It is good to alleviate suffering. Palliative care does this. State assistance to a citizen to kill themselves has a number of drawbacks.

First it is encouraging the medical community to go against their oath to "do no harm."

Second, it is a disincentive to discover cures for current terminal illnesses.

Third, it makes alleviating pain a priority in medical treatment to the point where death is preferred to life if a person is suffering. This could eventually encroach on other medical circumstances where death is chosen as a preferred treatment in patients with less severe prognosis.

Fourth, rarely, some terminal patients do rebound from terminal diagnosis, without scientific explanation. I am aware personally of one such case that touched my family. If he had committed suicide Tom would be dead now, rather than living a rewarding life.

Medical science, as advanced as it is, is not a perfect science. Let's doubt a little the medical community's infallibility and consider the idea that death is not the right way to treat the ill, be they diagnosed terminal or not. Death comes to everyone, lets encourage palliative care in our medical community, but draw the line at state-sanctioned killing.

I am not OK as a Maryland citizen with being complicit in someone else's suicide.

Matthew Liptak, Severn

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