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Making Clear His Wish for the Right to Die With Dignity

February 15, 1996

I am very pleased to see the sincere and caring letters to the editor (Feb. 4) in response to the article about my plight ("Fighting for a Dignified Death," Jan. 17). Since neither letter addresses the issue I am fighting for--legal physician-assisted suicide--I would like to add a few words.

In the first letter, the writer states, "Hospice provides comfort and care to the terminally ill." I fully support all hospices, but there are more terminally ill patients than there are available spaces. I have a comfortable and caring environment at home with my family--where I wish to be when I die.

The second letter provides information concerning CMV retinitis, the No. 2 opportunistic infection leading to death among people with AIDS. Thank you for bringing up the fact that early intervention along with regular examinations of HIV-positive individuals is imperative in preventing possible vision loss. I would be blind had I not taken early aggressive action in my own CMV infection.

I would like to reiterate my criteria for my own personal physician-assisted suicide: When I am blind, deaf, paralyzed, unable to speak, have a greatly reduced mental capacity, am in unbearable pain, then I feel I would have a right to die due to significant loss and compromise in the quality of my life.

I strongly believe that every person has the right to personal dignity and a life without suffering. When the time comes that even the best medical care can no longer provide such a life, we should provide the right to physician-assisted suicide.


Los Angeles

Editor's note: John Doe is, with Jack Kevorkian, a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles seeking to overturn California's law against assisted suicide.

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