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    Letters to the editor

    Boston Globe Magazine readers respond to stories on the Death with Dignity ballot question, low interest rates, and more.


    “Dying Wishes” in the April 29 Globe Magazine refers to “Death with Dignity” instead of what it really is: “physician-assisted suicide.” As stated by then chief justice William Rehnquist in the 1997 case of Washington v. Glucksberg, “An examination of our Nation’s history, legal traditions, and practices demonstrates that Anglo American common law has punished or otherwise disapproved of assisted suicide for over 700 years.” He goes on to state that there are at least five government interests to support that history.  They are prohibiting killing and preserving human life; preventing the serious public health problem of suicide, especially among the young, the elderly, and those suffering from untreated pain or depression; protecting the medical profession’s integrity; protecting the poor, elderly, disabled, and persons in other vulnerable groups from pressure to end their lives; and avoiding a possible slide toward voluntary and even involuntary euthanasia. I submit these are more than sufficient reasons to vote “No” on this ballot question.    

    Philip D. Moran / Salem  



    With fear and rage I respond to the article “Dying Wishes.” A ballot question? The idea of people voting on the worth of a human being is sickening, but my greatest fear has to do with the notion that if a person chooses to request assistance dying, that person is clearly depressed. During such depression it is impossible to make a clear decision. We all have such periods, sick or not, but almost always, with time or therapy or medication or support, that feeling goes away. As a person with a lifelong disability, I have had serious health crises and wished to terminate my life, but I have been fortunate to have medical care and family and friends to help me through my struggles. Those who are not so fortunate rely on the medical establishment. For those of us with disabilities and for elderly folks, our value in this society is already less significant, and we need to rely on physicians to help keep us alive, rather than kill us in the name of compassion.

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    Karen Schneiderman / Jamaica Plain


    I worked with Hospice of Hampshire County for 10 years and was privileged to know not only our own staff, but also the wonderful patients and caregivers who were involved with end-of-life issues. Many conversations centered on the whys and wherefores of dying and the limitations of the medical profession to address the pain and “make it go away.” However, many folks do not have hospice available and suffer terribly before death takes them. (It reminds me of a time — not so long ago — when physicians were unable to give female patients information on birth control.) I hope that the voters will make this information and the opportunity available for anyone needing it.

    Irene Clarke / Framingham



    I will never understand why it should be your vote that decides whether or not I end my own life with dignity. I believe that decision is between me and whatever God I may believe in; it’s not a political issue.

    Tinka Perry / Mansfield


    Through my professional and personal life, I’ve been involved with numerous end-of-life decision-making discussions. I can assure you that they are deeply thoughtful, meaningful, and difficult discussions that evolve over time. As a physician, my goal at these meetings is to have my patient’s voice heard. As a daughter, my goal was to help my dad get the death he wanted. I think the only fair and humane decision is to give those who suffer from some of the most horrific diseases — that rob them of their independence, livelihood, families, and lives, and cause great suffering —a voice. Why do people oppose “Death with Dignity” with fear? The dying tell us what they want. Why is it so hard for us to listen?


    Dr. Suzie Bertisch / Jamaica Plain



    Thank you to Mark Pothier for writing an excellent article pointing out how low interest rates hurt retired people (Perspective, April 29). My husband and I are forced into the stock market because our savings are earning no interest in the bank, and we need to guard against inflation. The stock market goes up and down like a yo-yo, so we are afraid to spend money because we are never sure how much we have. On top of that, the value of our condo has dropped. I think this is the reason that the economy is so shaky: Less discretionary spending by retirees affects restaurants, travel, clothing stores, car sales, and more. As retirees, we don’t want a handout. We just want a chance for our money to earn a decent rate of interest.

    Paula B. Young / South Dartmouth



    Regarding “Fly Homes” (Style Watch, April 29): These are cute decorations, but a proper birdhouse depends on the species you want to attract. The site and size of the entry hole determine this. It should also be able to be opened and easily cleaned after the residents have left. It is important to differentiate between cute yard ornaments and birdhouses.

    Carolyn Bishop / Belmont



    I have a love-hate relationship with Gwen Romagnoli’s essays (Connections, April 29). The relationship she describes is simply beautiful, but I cry after reading every time. I lost my dad over a year ago, and I know that no matter how many of his old chores I do for my mom, I can’t ease her feelings of loss. This spring, I’ll plant tomatoes where my dad always planted them, I’ll clean up the leaves from around the lilies, and I’ll wash the windows. And while I do, I’ll think of my mom and dad and the loving years they spent working together, and I’ll think of Gwen and Franco, too. Thank you for sharing this process with us.

    Laura Lamarre Anderson / Westford

    COMMENTS? Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Letters, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.