Letters to the Editor

What is compassion?

Those in support of physician-assisted suicide argue that by providing lethal medication they are showing compassion to the terminally ill. Yet when offered the choice of death, patients, instead of feeling less pain or fear, actually had increased feelings of anxiety, pain and worthlessness.

In fact, studies have shown that in areas where Physician Assisted Suicide is legal, severe pain and distress has increased. (Fromme EK, Tiden VP, Drach LL, Tolle SW. Increased family reports of pain or distress in dying Oregonians:1996 to 2002. J Plliat Med. 2004 Jun;7(3):431-442.) Providing death as a solution could be abused, one 84-year-old woman explains. “I started losing my hearing about three years ago, it irritated my daughter. She began to question me about financial matters. One evening, she said she thought it was okay for older people to commit suicide. So I sit, day after day, knowing what I am expected to do.” (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, September 14, 1993)

I have a close friend suffering from Parkinson’s. Watching his condition decline rapidly is very difficult, but to think that there are those who would like to offer him death instead of loving care disgusts me. What the terminally ill need is love, true compassion and support. The last days of life should be as cherished as the first days of life, not discarded. After all, aren’t we all terminal?

Kira Clark

North Bend

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