I was interested in the April 10 column by Kristen Hanson and Joanne Van Loenen, “Assisted-suicide legislation sends wrong message to Maine patients.”

While I do not agree with their conclusions, I felt that they raised several valid points. The idea of insurance companies suggesting that individuals who have insurance with them consider ending their lives is absolutely appalling. Such behavior should be curtailed and severely punished.

However, the decision to end one’s life is an intensely personal one and really cannot be assessed by anyone else. The bill under consideration in Maine would allow individuals the freedom to make their own decision.

In fact, where similar laws are in place, many individuals who have obtained medication to end life do not use it. Having the option frequently is enough. The number of drug-assisted deaths has been relatively small.

Possible abuses could be addressed by modifying the law if necessary. Screening for mental illness, including depression, is a mandatory part of the patient’s evaluation under the Maine proposal.

This is an important issue for many citizens of our state, and I am pleased that this law is under consideration.

Nancy D. Barber, M.D.

retired physician


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