Letter: The right to die

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The Independent Online
DR PHIL HAMMOND fails to explain (7 April) exactly why he thinks only people with incurable and/or progressive conditions are to be taken at their word when they say they want to die.

No doctor, surely, could kill an able-bodied patient he felt had a life worth living, simply because that person expressed a wish to die - any more than any of us would give a person threatening to jump from a tower block a hefty push, because the only relevant consideration was that they had said repeatedly that they wanted to die. The doctor has to agree with the patient's hopelessness about their life before he can terminate that life.

Dr Hammond stresses that he is talking only of "voluntary" euthanasia; the truth is that he would accept only some "volunteers". Euthanasia is yet another way in which a common prejudice is put into practice - the distorted view that says sick people are right to want to die and are "better off dead".

ALISON DAVIS

Blandford Forum, Dorset

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