Letter: The Indignity of Dependence

To the Editor:

The longer I live, the more futile seems the effort of modern medicine to face down death. Disease is usually caused by bacteria and viruses, coupled with malfunction of inherited genes. Many of these are now eliminated or corrected, allowing us to live longer. We often need more support as we age, in an effort to postpone the inevitable.

Those who promote palliative care, ending life with “dignity,” seem to ignore the indignations of being utterly dependent on others, often unable to wipe ourselves after defecation.

It isn’t that I want assisted suicide. I want simply to be allowed to die, earlier rather than later, trusting modern medicine’s ability to keep the body relatively comfortable, i.e., pain free.

Jack Hemenway