TO THE EDITOR:
Political consultant Kate Coyne-McCoy wrote in a recent Boston Globe commentary, “To ease suffering for terminally ill patients, Rhode Island should legalize medically assisted death,” which supports The Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act, which would allow a terminally ill patient to choose to end their life using medications prescribed by a physician, that “We euthanize animals with regularity when they are in undeniable pain that won’t get better. Yet, we force terminally ill people to suffer for months and sometimes years without the same humane end.” Well, this rather begs the question, does it not? Is it actually “humane” to treat people like animals? Hasn’t the entire animal rights movement been based on the idea that animals ought to be treated more like persons and now we hear advocates say that human persons should be put to death like mere animals? We put animals to death, humanely, from the point of perspective that is, of the human understanding that suffering has no meaning for a non-rational animal. We, as human persons, rational beings, know full well that our suffering throughout our lives is that fertile soil from which we grow in understanding, mercy, and compassion for others. This is obtained not by killing off those in pain but in caring for our brothers and sisters in compassion. Suffering changes both those who experience it and those who witness it in the loving care and humility of the human condition. Yes, it can be “horrific to watch someone you love die a slow, painful death.” But do we really want to lower the bar to the concept that loving care of suffering persons, rather than directly killing them, is the equivalent of, as Kate Coyne-McCoy suggests, “treating their loved ones worse than lame horse”? I have just completed several years of caring for an elderly, sick, blind, suffering friend. She was NOT a lame horse. She was a human person, a beautiful woman, who deserved love, care, and compassion to her last breath. And to “put her out of her misery” at some point along this human journey of suffering and compassion would have been to deny ourselves, both her and me, the difficult lessons learned on the heavy road of life. To choose at any point to deliberately end her life would have been to deny our very humanity, hers and mine, for it is our very personhood, which comes hell or high water, that differentiates us from lame horses.
Kiki Latimer, Hope Valley