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End-of-life decisions

October 25, 2008

Re "Life, and death, and who decides," Opinion, Oct. 19

I read Ben Mattlin's Op-Ed article on AB 2747, California's recent legislation ensuring terminal patients the right to know all legal end-of-life options, with admiration and respect. I'm inspired by his personal courage.

However, I take exception to an important point. Mattlin says AB 2747 involves euthanasia, but the law mandates only conversation. Informing terminally ill patients about their legally available treatment options, including their right to refuse unwanted treatment, is not the same thing as helping a person end his or her life.

Death is difficult to talk about. This law is intended to ease the conversation. Mattlin does not want this type of conversation at this time in his life. Others, myself included, do.

Linda Banez

La Mirada

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Mattlin writes a thoughtful article about end-of-life issues. The message I take from it, however, is not to oppose informing patients of their options when they are ill but rather to encourage them to file advance directives with their potential healthcare providers, nominating someone they trust to make these decisions when they cannot.

Only a close relative or friend can estimate what limitations would be tolerable to a person. I am in awe of Stephen Hawking's achievements. He has a disability similar to Mattlin's. Would I accept such a lifestyle? I doubt it.

Good decisions require a knowledge of the options and should be made by people who know a patient's wishes and will act to preserve them when that patient is physically or mentally unable to.

Peter Marx

Glendale

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