With regard to physician-assisted suicide, I am repeatedly discouraged by limited and one-sided discussions concerning this complex, important and controversial subject.

A March 8 letter to the editor is an example of this (“Assisted-death legislation would offer a different choice”). The Feb. 23 op-ed on this subject (“Maine Voices: Discussion should begin on right to make one’s own end-of-life decision”) is more balanced and provides resources that present needed contrasting points of view.

In my opinion, we citizens have avoided full and reasoned discussions concerning the subject of death and dying. Some of our leaders have misrepresented the subject and stifled debate. An example of this was the concept of “death panels” raised during the Affordable Care Act debates of 2010.

There is a need for full and public discourse about the role death plays in how we live our lives. This role is varied, but very strong in most of us. Understanding this has the potential to enrich our lives and should occur before the construction of laws allowing physician assisted suicide.

As a culture, we need to understand the risks of unintended consequences that new laws may present, the bases of contrasting opinions, the ethics concerning dying and the fact that physician-assisted suicide is not the only alternative to the pain and suffering of terminal illnesses.

I suggest that the Press Herald and/or MPBN provide a forum for this dialogue. One approach could be the publishing of pro and con essays authored by ethicists. A televised Oxford-style debate or series of debates with audience participation, concerning the need for physician-assisted suicide, would be informative and exciting.

Help us complete the circle and finish the process of answering the important questions that have been asked. Only after this should we expect our legislators to create legislation.

David Scotton, M.D.

Cape Elizabeth