Former Mayor: Assisted Suicide Is Not Necessarily the Answer

Dear Bintel Brief:

Until very recently, I considered myself an average American woman. I am foreign-born, but I’ve been here for many years — and I love the country that adopted me. I voted diligently in every election. I was also very active and productive. I worked as a volunteer. I was athletic.

Suddenly, without provocation, I became an old lady. I fell many times, and was unable to get up. More than anything, I mourn the loss of my ability to walk and to use my arms well. I live in a nursing home, and I sincerely do want to die. And I notice that many of my friends of more or less the same age, law-abiding citizens, wish we could commit suicide after a certain age — without in any way implicating our children or other people we love.

I would consider it a kindness and a privilege if the country allowed me to commit painless suicide. I think there should be a board of qualified physicians and laymen, including the immediate family, to attest to my sanity and the certainty of my wishes, and to the fact that I was not coerced. A period of a month should elapse between my application and the decision, so that my children wouldn’t be implicated in any way. Because it so happens I have very good daughters, who can’t help me in any way with this — my final request.

Shouldn’t there be a way for people like me to determine how they want to die?


Ed Koch Replies

From 1978 to 1989, Edward I. Koch served as the mayor of New York. Koch, the second Jewish mayor in the city’s history, is an author of more than a dozen books, including “The Koch Papers: My Fight Against Anti-Semitism” (Palgrave, 2008), written with Rafael Medoff. A longtime advocate of Catholic-Jewish dialogue and relations, Koch also co-wrote “His Eminence and Hizzoner” (William Morrow, 1989) with the late John Cardinal O’Connor. The former mayor is a partner at the Manhattan law firm Bryan Cave.

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Former Mayor: Assisted Suicide Is Not Necessarily the Answer

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