Somehow we missed this good letter when it appeared in the Burlington Free Press last June.
How can anyone say the law is working well when it hasn’t been used at all and when we don’t know where the lethal drugs that were obtained but not ingested are? Unlike some earlier versions of the bill that were defeated, Act 39 does not make any provisions at all for safe disposal of unused prescriptions. Barbiturates, the drugs used in assisted suicide, are known as “downers” when they are sold on the streets.
Here’s the letter, which also points to the likelihood of suicide contagion once assisted suicide deaths begin to be reported in Vermont.
We found the letter at http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/opinion/readers/letters/2014/06/22/assisted-suicide-debate-continues/11107163/. Here it is. Thank you, Patricia Brooks.
Assisted suicide law not working well
One year later physician assisted suicide, Act 39, is not working well as evidenced by Mr. Dick Walters’ Comment and Debate piece (“Death-with-dignity law is working well”) in the June 4 Free Press.
He indicates in his piece that two terminally ill people requested lethal drugs, but “both passed away before ingesting the medication.” It would appear that Act 39 wasn’t necessary, couldn’t insure manner of death and just left unused lethal drugs out there somewhere.
Act 39 is “legislative malpractice” as described by Edward Mahoney from Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and needs to be repealed. The medical community must provide comprehensive palliative care to the terminally ill but not assisted suicide.
In a May 2013 New York Times article on the sharp rise in U.S. suicide rates, a Boston wife, who lost her 58 year old husband to suicide, said, “One suicide can inspire other people, unfortunately, to view suicide as an option.”
It is important for all of us to join the medical community in providing other loving options to the most vulnerable. Over and over again modern medicine has shown that most pain and suffering can be alleviated.
In the end the Judeo-Christian tradition of finding meaning in suffering may be the peace of mind that lethal drugs won’t provide. As Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, wrote in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” “if there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”