In his April 13 letter, David L. Smith, M.D., of Portland, objects to a recent editorial (Our View, April 7) that argued in favor of a bill that “lays out the circumstances under which a patient diagnosed with an incurable, irreversible disease that is expected to cause death within six months can request medicine that would end their lives sooner.”

According to Dr. Smith, the proposed law, L.D. 1313, “supports assisted suicide” and “is dangerous to patients, to the medical profession and to society.” He goes on to spell out various ways in which he believes the bill is dangerous (e.g., “The Hippocratic Oath forbids giving patients the means to harm themselves”).

However, there is some danger in relying on the Hippocratic Oath. For example, it forbids charging for teaching medical knowledge to others, and forbids providing a means of abortion. Whether or not Dr. Smith abides by these strictures is unclear.

In a recent Washington Post column, George Will points out the futility of the war on drugs. As he notes, there has been “collateral damage to Mexicans, more than 250,000 of whom have died and an additional 40,000 have disappeared.” Further, “cocaine users around the world reported that their most recent cocaine order was delivered in less time, on average, than their most recent pizza order.” In other words, the war on drugs is both destructive and ineffective.

The alternative is to legalize all drugs, with the stipulation that any drug that could cause large-scale harm should be controlled, just as any weapon that can cause such harm should be controlled. Such drugs that would become legal would include those that would end lives sooner, as expressed in the editorial mentioned above.

The entire argument about aid in dying could be sidestepped by making the medicine in question available over the counter.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island


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