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Lawmakers should take a pass on legalizing assisted suicide and allow caregivers to focus on improving lives, not shortening them.

I’ve read with interest the many columns debating physician-assisted suicide legislation in the General Assembly this session including the recent letters to the editor in The Sun (“Fear is driving support of medically assisted suicide,” March 5).

I’ve seen arguments that “20 safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable persons” but no amount of safeguards avoid this bill’s message that an appropriate response to human suffering is suicide rather than solidarity. I would suggest this is connected to Oregon seeing a 49.3 percent increase in non-assisted suicides since they passed similar legislation in 1997, a rate that is 41 percent higher than the national average.

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I’ve seen arguments that it’s a person’s own decision and they should be afforded this option if they so choose, but the real question is why should this option carry state approval? And using this logic, why should it be available only to the “terminally ill?” I suggest instead the state is here to protect the lives of its citizens, not stamp approval on them taking their own lives.

I’ve seen arguments that the dying shouldn’t have to suffer and this is a way to prevent that. Human suffering is tragic and rightly rips at our heart. Modern palliative medicines enable us to mitigate suffering and our response as a society should be to accompany and affirm the dignity of each moment of a person’s life, not to hand them drugs so they can end them.

And I’ve seen arguments that we treat our dogs better (and they are euthanized), but I ask: Why would we treat humans as if they’re animals? We also buy and sell animals, eat them, put them in pens, etc. Since when is this the standard for human care?

This bill is not right for Maryland, and I urge legislators to direct the powerful witness of our dying into ways we can affirm their worth in every moment, not kill them.

Adrian G. Simmons, Laurel

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