I was disappointed to read (in the March 8 newspaper) the outdated headline "Maryland House OKs Assisted Suicide," describing the legislative vote in that state to approve medical aid in dying, an end-of-life option that has been legal in Oregon for more than 20 years.
As national medical director for Compassion and Choices, I testified in the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee last month, explaining to them why we in Oregon do not consider medical aid in dying "suicide," either clinically or legally. My opinions were also published in The Baltimore Sun.
Care for the terminally ill in Oregon, as reflected in our state's unsurpassed hospice and excellent palliative care programs, is due in part because patients and physicians have the ability to consider and discuss all end-of-life options, including medical aid in dying. Language matters, and in medicine language changes to reflect the true nature of conditions. Furthermore, language that is used at the end of an individual's life should not be hurtful, shaming, or cause guilt, fear, or anxiety. Medical aid in dying is the appropriate language.
David R. Grube, M.D.
Corvallis (March 8)
Editor's note: The online version of this letter includes a link to Grube's opinion piece in The Baltimore Sun.