Response to Mr. Miner
To the editor:
It is unfortunate that Mr. Miner associates suicide with the end-of-life choices made by dying individuals and their families.
As an ordained and formerly settled minister of religion, and a mental health professional, I have spent many hours helping individuals choose to live. Yet I am also a passionate advocate of compassionate death as an option of end-of-life medical treatment. There is no comparison between the despair, isolation and chaos of suicide and a planned, prepared and legally sanctioned death for the peace of the individual and family.
There is something worth knowing about states with aid-in-dying statutes. They have the highest rates of use of hospice services. New York has the lowest. Often individuals enter hospice care within days or hours of death. While a hospice volunteer I have witnessed families in disarray, argumentative and accusing, often in the presence of and distracted from caring attention to the dying family member.
Legislation that offers the option of compassionate death opens the door for us to talk about and plan openly for this universal life event. I am not associating hospice care with use of a provision for medical aid in dying. They are not a continuum. Both. however, provide the dying and their families an opportunity for emotional healing.
I am grateful that Dr. Federman has the fortitude to address this so important legislation.