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Letters: Debating death

May 18, 2012
  • Alan Purdy, 88, shown with a painting of his late wife, Margaret, at their San Marcos, Calif., home, told authorities that he did nothing to stop her as she committed suicide.
Alan Purdy, 88, shown with a painting of his late wife, Margaret, at their… (Los Angeles Times )

Re "He sat by while wife died: assisted suicide — or love?," Column One, May 16

Alan Purdy committed a courageous act in an impossible situation. After having once saved his wife Margaret from a suicide attempt, he accepted her wishes to stop her unending suffering and allowed her to take her own life.

The courage it took for Purdy to share the end with her is difficult to understand. But what should be understood is that all the justifications for taking legal action against him are wrong. Putting this man in jail is not justice, and it is not right.

As we get older, we see parents and loved ones die. If we and they are lucky, it is fast and peaceful. Margaret Purdy deserved the right to a peaceful death, and neither society, her husband, law enforcement, organized religion or anyone else had the right to keep her from ending her suffering.

Dan Walker

Rancho Santa Margarita

My mother had a do-not-resuscitate order. She also had a stroke, from which she was not supposed to be capable of recovering. This prognosis seemed right for an 89-year-old.

Medicare, her insurance and the hospital agreed that under these circumstances, starvation was the appropriate form of death. But she did not die within the predicted time frame, so she was sent to a nursing home to die; she lasted four more days there.

On the fourth day, the nursing home staff turned her onto her stomach to speed her passing. To smother her that way took hours longer than a plastic bag over her head would have. I was told she wasn't suffering; I wonder what her opinion was.

The family got to sit and watch, just as Purdy did for his wife; it just took longer, and it was a miserable passing for us all.

Amy Davis


What cruel people some police officers can be.

After his wife died, police led Purdy — an 88-year-old man, a loving husband and a World War II veteran who was clearly in shock — into his cold backyard. Afterward, he was taken away in handcuffs.

Where was the compassion? No wonder the public's relations with many police forces are so bad.

Ron Palmer

Port Hueneme


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