Thank you for your May 16 article by Eric Russell” (“If there was a good way to go, this was it”). He wrote of 75-year-old Ronald Deprez in the late stages of the degenerative illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mr. Deprez became one of the first to end his life under Maine’s Death With Dignity Act. Mr. Russell’s article should provide comfort to those who now face, or will face, a diagnosis of a terminal illness and the outlook of a painful death. They now have options.

That law added us to the growing list of states recognizing that end of life decisions are not the government’s to make. When a mentally competent adult has a terminal illness and only a few months to live, that individual now has significant choice on how to proceed. Some may choose aggressive medical treatment, some may choose palliative care to control pain, and others may request medication allowing them to choose the time and place for ending their own suffering.

Mr. Deprez opted for the latter which allowed him to end his life peacefully, in a dignified way, at the place and time of his choosing. I have heard many had heart-wrenching stories of loved ones who pleaded for the ability to end their lives peacefully but who were instead forced to die in pain and despair. No longer.

Len Freeman
Portland

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