Letter: End of Life Act is opposite of love

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To the editor:

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel stated, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." I cannot help but think of this quote as I consider the misnamed End of Life Options Act (S.1208 Brownsburger/H.1926 Kafka).

The End of Life Options Act forbids physicians from ending their patients' lives through assisted suicide. However, it allows physicians to "contact a pharmacist, inform the pharmacist of the [life-ending] prescription, and deliver the written [life-ending] prescription personally, by mail, or by otherwise permissible electronic communication to the pharmacist, who will dispense the [life-ending] medications directly to either the patient, the attending physician, or an expressly identified agent of the patient." At least physicians aren't assisting in suicide.

This obvious disingenuity aside, I commend the authors of this legislation for including safeguards which seek to prevent abuse. These safeguards include mandating that two physicians attest that the patient is terminally ill (meaning that s/he will most likely die in six months), mandating that a mental health professional certify that the patient isn't depressed or suffering from a psychological or psychiatric disorder, and mandating that two witnesses affirm that the patient isn't being coerced.

However, notice all the parties here who ought to care about and protect the patient but who are indifferent as the patient seeks to take his/her life. Two physicians, who are trusted to do their patients no harm, are certifying that a patient is `qualified' to end his/her life. A mental health professional, who specializes in preventing self-harm, is attesting that a patient is "competent" to commit the worst kind of self-harm, namely suicide, and, in a nation with laws which recognize that every life has worth, two witnesses are legally paving the way for the patient to end his/her life forever because s/he is "acting voluntarily."

In theory, all of this can only happen if the patient has six months or less to live. However, both the life experience of multitudes and common sense indicate that, when a doctor says how long a person is expected to live, s/he is only estimating and could quite possibly be wrong. If this legislation passes, assisted suicide may still be banned, but something far worse, indifference in the face of suicide, will be allowed. Please join me in calling state Sen. Adam Hinds at 413-344-4561 or 413-768-2373 to urge him to oppose this radically unloving piece of legislation.

Gabriel Greenspan,

Becket

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