The following letter by Ira Byock was published in the New York Times on November 4, 2012.
Ben Mattlin (“Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast,” Op-Ed, Nov. 1) shows so well that people who are disabled or frail do not have to choose death to become dignified; they already are.
The “right to die” is just a slogan. No right to suicide can be found in any social compact.
People do have a right to expect that their doctors will be well trained in pain management, skilled in communication and in counseling them through the most difficult times in life.
And we have a right to expect that Medicare and insurance companies will not force us to give up effective treatments for our medical conditions in order to receive hospice care for our comfort and our families’ support.
Physician-assisted suicide is not a right. It’s a wrong.
College Station, Tex., Nov. 1, 2012
The writer, the director of palliative care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, is the author of “The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life.”
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