|Oregon's lethal drug of choice: Secobarbital|
Assisted suicide advocates and their media allies would have us believe that taking lethal pills somehow represents the supreme expression of individual choice (see for example, "Deciding to use the end-of-life law," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 16). In reality, however, legalized assisted suicide can lead down a quick and dangerous path to patient abuse and the loss of autonomy.
What happens when government and corporate payers or unscrupulous heirs calculate that your early death spells cost savings? The "right to die" quickly morphs into a "duty to die," complete with subtle and not-so-subtle psychological pressures on vulnerable patients.
Such abuses of elderly, handicapped and other vulnerable patients will never show up in whitewashed, bare-bones bureaucratic reports. Secrecy provisions in the law prevent independent investigations. The only witness is dead.
Palliative care including powerful pain relief, coupled with the unconditional and persevering love of family and friends, offer a priceless alternative to cheap suicide pills and a safeguard of patient choice.