Sunday, June 29, 2008

Assisted Suicide

Caution on right to die
Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2008, at M2.

Re "A personal battle over right to die," June 22

If the issue of assisted suicide was simply about autonomy, personal choice and respect, then it would be an easy call: Let the terminally ill die with dignity. Unfortunately, other influences could affect this choice.

Insurance companies could have an incentive to "assist" terminally ill patients end their suffering. It is no doubt cheaper to prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates than to manage a patient's suffering for months or years. Also, there could be self-imposed pressure to "choose" death to reduce the financial burden and, possibly, maximize inheritance.

Any assisted-suicide law must be carefully drafted to minimize the risk of outside influence.