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Caution on right to die

June 29, 2008

Re "A personal battle over right to die," June 22

If the issue of assisted suicide was simply about autonomy, personal choice and respect, then it would be an easy call: Let the terminally ill die with dignity. Unfortunately, other influences could affect this choice.

Insurance companies could have an incentive to "assist" terminally ill patients end their suffering. It is no doubt cheaper to prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates than to manage a patient's suffering for months or years. Also, there could be self-imposed pressure to "choose" death to reduce the financial burden and, possibly, maximize inheritance.

Any assisted-suicide law must be carefully drafted to minimize the risk of outside influence.

Hirbod Rashidi

Los Angeles

I have to disagree with Chris Carlson's opposition to Washington's Death with Dignity Act.

Although I congratulate Carlson for beating cancer, there are many of us who don't have that chance. In 2006, I was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, which will atrophy all my muscles. There is no cure.

There will come a time when I have to decide whether to go on a ventilator. This will be a hard decision. As my doctor told me, once you turn on a ventilator, it's hard to turn it off -- because there is no "death with dignity" law here in California.

Although I would like to hang around as long as I can communicate with my family, I don't want to be another Terri Schiavo. That's why I wish opponents to laws like this one could step into my shoes. All I am asking for is control of my life.

Dan Funicello

North Hills

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