The front-page Nov. 24 article “Together, a Brooksville couple left the world, provoking a debate about death and choice” raises important issues worthy of ongoing public debate. Unfortunately it is in error where it states, “It was only a few months ago that Maine passed the Death with Dignity Act, which allows physicians to administer lethal medication to terminally ill patients.”

In fact, the Death with Dignity Act allows doctors to write a prescription for an expectedly lethal dose of medication to a patient who has been carefully screened by strict criteria (including life expectancy of less than six months and ruling out mental illness), and who requests it. The patient must self-administer the medication.

This is an important distinction and is central to understanding the controversy raised by the article. Control over death rightfully remains a topic of much public debate, which should be informed by correct information.

Henry C. Skinner, M.D., DFAPA

president, Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians


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