End of life

I am writing in response to two letters that appeared April 30 in the BDN urging support for a bill in the Legislature, LD 1270, An Act Regarding Patient-directed Care at the End of Life. If passed, this would allow terminally ill patients to receive a prescription to end their lives when they feel the time is right.

This is a very dangerous path to take. There would be guidelines in place, but as we all know these could be changed. Doctors, profit-driven health care systems, family members or caregivers could take control in pushing the elderly, the developmentally disabled and the vulnerable to quick deaths.

There is an excellent article in the Feb. 20 issue of Newsweek about euthanasia in Europe. It examines both sides of the question. It also tells about what happens when assisted suicide gets out of control.

I will call my representative and ask him to vote against LD 1270. God gives life, and God should be the one to decide when it ends.

Sheila Cookson


Addiction not like stroke

It was with great astonishment that I read in the May 2 issue of the BDN that Dr. Eric Brown, in his OpEd, “The fight to stop treating addicts as if they’re expendable,” feels drug addiction and stroke are similar. I know that anyone who has had a stroke or loves someone who has had one totally disagrees with him.

Brown says stroke victims can learn to talk again. That is true for some but not always. Learning to walk, talk and perform normal functions is done by long, painful hours of therapy, and there is no guarantee.

The side effects he attributes to drug withdrawal are seen with strokes — and other chronic, life-changing conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. Extreme pain, spasms, depression, anxiety, frustration and a feeling of loss are just several of them. Losing your health can mean losing everything you value.

My husband had a stroke in November 2001. He went from being an employer, a husband and a father to being homeless and in a wheelchair, sleeping in the park while waiting for a room at the homeless shelter. He is in horrific pain 24/7, and his life is extremely difficult. He still hopes to find a job but so far has had no luck.

The biggest thing Brown has not considered in his comparison is choice. My husband had no choice in having a stroke and has no choice in his health now. The people Brown deals with chose drugs and can choose to quit drugs.

I am sure quitting drugs is not easy, but neither is quitting cigarettes or losing weight. No one’s life is perfect, but with God’s help we can get by and without being tied to a drug support program.

Claire El-Hajj


Protect kids’ health

LD 948, the healthy kids bill, not only is an issue important to Maine’s feminists because it protects those who are pregnant but also because it is an issue that affects everyone who calls Maine home. While the dangerous toxins that are not being regulated by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection are harmful to all Mainers, those who are pregnant, parents and their children are at an extremely high risk for health problems, including cancer, fertility issues, learning disabilities, autism and asthma.

Maine citizens have the right to know, as consumers, which products can threaten their own health and the health of their families. It is the role of the Maine DEP to protect Maine’s citizens to the best of its ability from the potential harm caused by products made with the toxic chemicals identified in the report Maine Chemicals of High Concern. Making sure we have the information we need to make healthy decisions is a part of that role.

Currently the DEP is not working to its full capacity to take the actions granted to them through the Kid Safe Products Act of 2008. LD 948 would strengthen Maine’s current law and direct the DEP to be more thorough in its rulemaking in the future.

As a student looking toward Maine’s future, I urge legislators to pass LD 948 because it is the best way to protect Maine’s citizens from the health risks caused by unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals.

Maggie Burgos


Restore infantry blue

The May 5 BDN article, “LePage convenes search committee for new Maine National Guard chief,” caught my attention. Reference was made to the “storied” 133rd Engineer Battalion and the previous adjutant general’s apparent plan to dismantle the Engineer unit and return it to an infantry unit.

I had been following stories in Army Times since late 2013 regarding the National Guard’s plan to restructure Guard units in many states, including Maine. Basically, there are too many units given the necessary force structure for national defense.

The infantry would argue, and the Army Times agreed, that “storied” really belongs to the historic roots of the 133rd — the “really storied” 20th Maine Infantry, which turned the tide of the Civil War at Little Round Top. The 20th Maine crest, which reads “To the Last Man,” has never quite fit an engineer unit of bulldozers and dump trucks.

When I retired from the Maine-based Army Reserve 3/304th Infantry at West Point, where I was a senior instructor, a “storied” and highly decorated lieutenant colonel ordered me back to Maine to demand of the governor that the “storied” colors of the 20th Maine be restored to the infantry where they belonged. From what I have read, the engineers are going away. I hope the next adjutant general continues to advocate for those colors to return to infantry blue.

Peter Duston


Go to Joplin show

It’s not an earthquake, but it will feel like one. The Penobscot Theatre is bringing a superb singer and actress to town with her thrilling renditions of Janis Joplin’s game-changing music. I don’t know what the marketing budget of this theatre is, but I know that word-of-mouth is the best advertising.

My hope is that the people in Bangor who love a vibrant evening of entertainment will run, not walk, to buy tickets for Karen Irwin’s “A Piece of Her Heart.” It has a short run, from June 4 to 7.

I’m writing to you from across the country to encourage you to attend. As a life-long actor, I know how rare this fine performance is.

Diane Kondrat

Portland, Oregon