Letter: Choosing to die

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Whilst Jeremy Laurance is right in his assertion that support for euthanasia declines with advancing age ("Choosing not to go gently", 30 March), this decline, in polls conducted by both NOP and British Social Attitudes, is small. Even then there is a very substantial majority of older people in support.

Jeremy Laurance declares that he is not against euthanasia, but seemingly only if it is not called as such and is carried out at the doctor's discretion. As long as the doctor says he did not intend to kill the patient all is well. Apart from the hypocrisy required of the doctor, often this is an act of paternalism (non-voluntary euthanasia). I believe it is vitally important that the patient is the decision-maker.

Whilst I recognise that many people would wish to cling to life even in the face of extreme suffering, some do not. Why shouldn't we have the choice? The assurance that we do not have to face suffering and indignity at the end of life would be a great comfort to us all and would be, I suggest, very life-enhancing.

JOHN OLIVER

General Secretary

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society

London W8

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