Re "Tragedy follows landmark court win," March 16
The judges who ruled that Kanuri Qawi could refuse treatment displayed the power of stigma. Courts have been reluctant to unplug life-support systems until they have medical evidence that a comatose patient has no chance of survival. Has any court made it impossible to obtain treatment for a person who is unconscious from a heart attack or in a diabetic coma?
Clearly, there is a double standard when only those with brain diseases are being given a choice to refuse medication during a medical crisis. People who have impaired brain functioning are as human, as important and as worthy of care in a crisis as those with other diseases.
When the court denies medical care to a whole class of people, it is stigma.
JOY M. DOYLE
In regard to the legal dilemma of involuntarily medicating the mentally ill, I have more hope for a scientific solution than a legal one. Currently, doctors don't know why one medication works for one person and not another. If you break your arm, every doctor will agree on what to do. However, for medications for mental illness, the psychiatrist is basically making an educated guess about which medications to try. It takes several weeks to rule out a medication, and searching for the right combination can go on for several months or even years.