Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Reject Assisted Suicide

As a physician in Oregon where doctor-assisted suicide is legal, I write to urge your readers to contact their legislators to reject assisted-suicide in Montana.

One of my first requests for assisted-suicide came from a man with multiple sclerosis. He was wheelchair dependent with multiple sclerosis yet lived a very active life. While I was seeing him, I asked him about his disease. He acknowledged it was a major challenge and told me that if he got too much worse, he might want to “just end it.” “It sounds like you are telling me this because you might ultimately want assistance with your own suicide if things got worse,” I said. He nodded affirmatively, and seemed relieved that I seemed to really understand.

I told him that no matter how debilitated he might become, that, at least to me, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable. As such, I would not recommend, nor could I participate in his assisted-suicide. He simply said, “Thank you.”

Unfortunately, in Oregon, people are often instead told that they are right to want to die – that their lives have no value. I urge you to not let this tragedy be repeated in Montana.

William L. Toffler MD
Portland, Ore.