March 21, 2011
Webster defines suicide as, “An act or instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally; self-murder.” No exceptions or modifications are recognized concerning the victim’s age, health-status or estimate of life expectancy. This definition appears accurate, precise and appreciated by most adult Vermonters.
I hope and trust, therefore, that our Vermont Legislature will soundly reject the proposal to legalize physician assisted suicide, noting that:
• It would be impossible to accurately monitor; witness, for example, the large number of individuals and organizations convicted of fraud, deceit and theft.
• Predictions as to six months, or less, to live, are notoriously inaccurate, especially as medical and surgical care continues to evolve and improve.
• The degree of pain noted by terminal cancer patients is greatly exaggerated, an exception being those with bone cancer for whom unlimited amounts of legal and effective analgesics are readily available.
• The potential for abuse is huge, “Grandpa is wasting our inheritance;” Grandmother you always said, “I don’t want to be a burden to anyone.”
• It runs counter to our centuries-old role, “Cure-sometimes, contribute-generally, comfort-always, but harm-never.”
In conjunction with the performance of very many major surgeries, never did a single patient request that I terminate him or her. We should continue to improve and utilize our excellent Hospice-type care, and further promote patient terminal care directives.
I, therefore, respectfully implore our Vermont Legislature to never permit anyone to legally practice as — “Death Consultant; Have Pill, Will Kill.”
THOMAS G. HOWRIGAN,