A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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Assisted suicide

I-1000 isn’t limited to terminally ill

Editor, The Times:

Regarding Carol Ostrom’s article about I-1000, I agree with opponent Duane French that assisted suicide will not stop at the terminally ill [“How we die,” Times, page one, Sept. 21].

Advocate Jack Leversee fears artificial life support and uses that as his argument for a right to lethal medication. But he already has the right to give advance directives on what kinds of artificial life support he does or doesn’t want, should he become incapacitated and unable to speak for himself.

Were he to find himself in that situation, he would be unable to self-administer lethal medication anyway. That someone would have to do it for him represents the potential danger.

Gov. Booth Gardner says he wants to be able to control his exit when he “can no longer keep busy.” There is a big difference between being able to keep busy and being diagnosed as terminally ill with six months to live.

The danger is that suicide medication will not be restricted to the terminally ill. Arguments for dispensing it to those who want to control their exit could easily turn into controlling the exits of the most vulnerable among us.

— Melanie Lermusik, Mukilteo

Initiative helps the suffering

I find it fascinating that the same state that blithely approved abortion agonizes over whether to allow the terminally ill the option of ending their lives with dignity.

It’s not that the state considers human life sacred; it metes out the death penalty without any pangs of conscience. Why, then, is there such commotion when someone who is dying requests the right to end his or her life?

Churchgoers claim the taking of life must be done in God’s time, not ours. Many times these are the same people who claim the execution of criminals is a God-given right.

The medical community wants to protect the sanctity of life without any concern for the quality of life, and I sometimes wonder if the extra money they receive from life support and painkillers might have something to do with their attitude.

Finally, we have others who argue that doctors or family members would “convince” patients to commit legal suicide. Obviously, these people never read the proposed amendment.

I-1000 offers some chance for the dying to choose the amount of pain they will be forced to tolerate. It doesn’t offer enough, as far as I’m concerned, because the dying person has to be within six months of death, but at least it offers escape from suffering for some.

If I were suffering from a terminal illness that was going to cause me great agony, I would like to know that I had the option of assisted suicide when I could no longer tolerate it — I believe it would make it easier to keep going.

Before anyone votes against the bill, they should visit a terminal-cancer ward. Then they would be able to make an informed decision.

— Connie Trier, Everett

Majority of doctors oppose I-1000

The Times article “Doctors divided on assisted suicide” [Local News, Sept. 22] suggests doctors are evenly split on the issue, which is not the case.

As a physician, I have participated in the last several Washington State Medical Association meetings and have observed the vast majority of physicians testify strongly against physician-assisted suicide.

In the Elway research poll cited, only about 7 percent of the WSMA membership responded (about 2.6 percent of all doctors in Washington). Smaller sample sizes produce less-reliable results. Also, the respondents were not responding to the specific provisions of I-1000, which was not even filed at the time of the poll. The poll’s automated telephone line was not receiving responses when I attempted to use it, raising additional concerns.

The WSMA position opposing assisted suicide accurately represents the position of almost all of the doctors I know. The American Medical Association and 48 of the other state medical associations also oppose assisted suicide. Even the Oregon Medical Association has rejected Oregon’s assisted suicide law as “seriously flawed” and attempted to have it overturned after they initially declared neutrality.

Although The Times’ article suggests physicians are split, everything that I know would suggest that doctors in Washington oppose I-1000 en masse.

— Mary P. Coday, M.D., Shoreline

U.S. economy

Stop pointing fingers

One day, back when Bill Clinton was president, I was walking with my very young niece. We came to a crack in the sidewalk, and she proceeded to tell me the crack was Clinton’s fault. I thought, “How strange. How did she come up with that?”

While watching the gubernatorial debates the other day, I heard for the umpteenth time that President Bush was responsible for the poor economy, as if no one else had a thing to do with it. I believe our government is dysfunctional, the morality of the nation is low and the blame game will not find us solutions.

We won’t find solutions to great problems unless we look deep within ourselves. Projecting blame and refusing to work across the aisles in Congress is not the answer. Start by looking within, and then vote, understanding that we need to work together for a better future.

— Dave Gould, Seattle

$700B bailout

A licensing proposal for bankers

The time has come to change the nature of the relationship between a customer and their banker [“$700B rescue: Will it work?,” page one, Sept. 21].

Doctors are licensed and ethically bound to both practice good medicine and provide sound medical advice to the best of their abilities. Accountants are licensed and ethically bound to see that books and financial statements are in order and tell the truth. Lawyers are licensed and ethically bound to properly advise and represent their clients while maintaining their confidences and upholding the law. We need something similar for bankers.

It should be legally and ethically unacceptable for a banker to knowingly advise clients to do the financially foolish, including borrowing more than they should, inappropriately encumbering their homes with lines of credit, having more open lines of credit than is prudent and refinancing too often.

Bankers should be licensed and ethically bound to a basic cannon of ethics. They should be required to take a minimum amount of continuing professional education as a part of their license renewal, including a course in banking ethics.

There should be penalties commensurate with the harm that can follow from heeding bad banking advice or being poorly served or abused by such banking practices.

These people have proven themselves to be all too willing and capable of inflicting harm on anyone to whom they can sell a bad loan or line of credit for us to let them go on as unlicensed “professionals” any longer. If they want this bailout, then it’s time for them to grow up and become responsible professionals.

— Craig Dupler, Seattle