Letter: Give people option on doctor-assisted death

Give people option of doctor-assisted death

To the editor:

Until recently I was one of the two chaplains at BMC. I was also minister and teacher at old Parish Church in Sheffield, former chaplain at Berkshire School and a hospice chaplain.

Barbara Shea Tracy is a colleague and friend whom I admire and respect, not only for her skills as a nurse and teacher but for her compassion, passion and dedication for her patients and her students. And I applaud her for her letter regarding the end of life issues that we will all face, sooner or later. ("Become informed on end-of-life options," June 10.)

Where we part company (this will be no surprise to Barb) are her views on physician-assisted dying. Unlike Barb, I have sat with parishioners and patients nearing the end of their lives whose physical, emotional and spiritual pain we (doctors, nurses, chaplains or family) were unable to control or alleviate. Individuals who wanted to be able to die with dignity and we're asking for help in ending their life. I'll never forget one such person, who after I finished praying with him said; "Art you prayed for the wrong thing. I want you to pray that I will die now rather than have to deal with this pain!"

I am a passionate advocate for hospice and for palliative care, and for physician-assisted dying so that individuals can choose to die with dignity. Doctors, nurses and loved ones can help them do that.

The Reverend Art Kaufman, Pittsfield, The writer is former United Church of Christ Minister.


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