M.D. Harmon’s column on “death with dignity” (“Assisted suicide never results in death with dignity,” May 1) competes with his other unreflective low points while channeling specious ideological positions. He enters into the emotional space facing the dying and their families in seemingly total ignorance.

My own son, Ethan, contracted a virulent form of cancer at age 41 that was untreatable and terminal.

He was born and raised in Maine and a graduate of Yale in the sciences, with a Ph.D. from Stanford. After a career in Silicon Valley, he entered academia at Western Washington State.

He was the center of the wheel of many friends, and he had two small children whom he dearly loved. Living in Washington state, he had a “death with dignity” option, which he chose after studied reflection.

In many ways, Ethan is more typical of the type of person who chooses to use “death with dignity” than Mr. Harmon would ever admit. At his side when Ethan died were his wife, his closest friend from Maine and both his parents. His last days with all of them are considered a gift – he was still himself, lucid and funny, not semi-comatose and in distress.

I think the best response to Mr. Harmon are Ethan’s own words: “It is very brave of people (like M.D. Harmon) to decide that I should suffer a prolonged and painful death.”

I close by noting that the studies and research done on the Washington and Oregon experience with “death with dignity” completely demolish Mr. Harmon’s suppositions about who chooses “death with dignity” and why, but facts have never been Mr. Harmon’s forte.

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