Letters to the Editor

From the week of June 22, 2006

Right to life: Luke Turf's "Exit This Way" featured the fact that the hub of the right-to-die movement is here in Colorado. It is very unfortunate that this story did not detail any evaluation of how right-to-die movements have evolved in other countries where they have been implemented. In the Netherlands, we have a thirty-year history that can be evaluated with the slippery slope in full view (as we have seen in the U.S. as well). It begins with one situation in mind: allowing people who are terminally ill to commit suicide with physician assistance. Currently, physicians in the Netherlands admit they routinely euthanize people against their will (61 percent of patients, per the Remmelink Report) and for various reasons that are not limited to the original intent. Patients are offered very little counseling.

Oregon has assisted suicide legislation that in its short time period is leading to many abuses. Oregon officials find hospice care, reimbursed by Medicare at approximately $105 a day, too expensive when they can give a prescription for a lethal dose of morphine. Who administers the morphine? It may not always be the patient, but a burdened family member. Oregon also allows depressed people to be assisted in their death. There was a time in this country when people tried to comfort and support those who suffer, not encourage their self-annihilation.

Turf's article centers on Sandy, who has a terminal cancer. Suicide is catching in a society. Sandy points this out when he reports his own mother may have taken her own life and he is enthusiastically following in her footsteps. He also reports he can think about living while he has a solution for death. Why could he not focus on the time left without needing to think about death? Many in our society are misguided in believing in death with dignity. Anyone who has seen death firsthand knows there is nothing dignified about it, much less about suicide. Most people fear death, and this gives them some perceived measure of control, but no one ultimately controls death.

Ask yourselves why the disabled fear this movement. Shouldn't the strong protect the weak?

Lolita Hanks

The light stuff: Thank you for the exceptional, brilliantly written article on the death and dignity movement, "Exit This Way." Luke Turf's story was journalism at its finest. What fascinated me was the way he weaved so many historical facts into a comprehensive narrative and kept the reader's rapt attention with the human-interest drama.

Although it's still an upward struggle, we feel we will have a law in California similar to that of Oregon this year. People still deny and shun the "D" word.

Luke, many thanks for giving light.

Reverend Dennis G. Kuby
The Socrates Death Acceptance Fellowship

Hard to swallow: I enjoyed your story about Sandy and Joann Bush, and the related information about Hemlock/Compassion & Choices. A couple of details were not consistent with my personal knowledge of a few things. First, I very seriously doubt the 50,000-plus membership of C&C. Many members have not renewed membership in the past two years, and I know of more than five chapters that have been dissolved.

I continue to support the entire movement that all of these organizations try to represent, and am a life member of C&C, as well as a member of the Final Exit Network and Exit International. But politics, and egos, are the same the world around (apparently), and all of these organizations support that opinion.

Thanks again for the story.

Rod Newman
via the Internet

Pleased to assist: I would not claim to be the father of the right-to-die movement in America because that started when I was a boy, in l939. But I suppose I was the father of the "assisted suicide" movement from when I published Jean's Way in l979 and started Hemlock in l980.

On the whole, a thorough and interesting article by Luke Turf.

Derek Humphry
Junction City, Oregon

For the Record

Whistling Dixie: Regarding Robert Wilonsky's June 1 Playlist piece on the Dixie Chicks:

At a paltry 28 percent approval rating (DUHbya's latest), I've finally been exonerated by 72 percent of America for wearing a "The Dixie Chicks Were Right" bumpersticker for the past three years! I'm ashamed of any radio station not playing the Chicks' new music. This is the reverse of payola. Because of lying, men and women are dying in the wrong war at the wrong timeŠso that Iraqis can have the freedom of speech that Americans are supposed to enjoy.

Just like groups that promote censorship on TV (even cable), all you have to do is turn the channel! I'm tired of the RWNs (right-wing nuts) holding a cross and wrapping themselves in a flag and being so hypocritical about what freedom truly is: It's only free if they say so!

You're either with us or against us. George Washington (the one who never told a lie) would be so ashamed of this America.

Jack Curenton
Smithville, West Virginia

Eating Vicariously

Reviews in review: Love, love, love Jason Sheehan's reviews! I used to cook quite a bit when I had a family and loved to entertain, but now that I'm alone, I don't cook much at all, so I live vicariously through his reviews. Keep up the good work.

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