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Attorney general shouldn't meddle with pain relief

Re: Separating merciful death from agony, Nov. 10.

As a registered nurse and a volunteer counselor at Hospice of Pasco, Inc., I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Jerome Groopman's opinions regarding a merciful death.

No agency, no attorney general (John Ashcroft) and certainly no committee should determine the care we receive at the most agonizing time for patient and family. All of us will die. How we die and how much relief from pain we receive are up to a compassionate and caring physician and our family.

When these ingredients are paramount, then we can be grateful. If government, or self-serving individuals interfere with this process, God help us, because no one else will be able to.

Lilyan V. Dayton, R.N., New Port Richey

Wiping out medical progress

Re: Separating merciful death from agony.

As a physician dealing many times a day with the pain of patients with incurable cancer, I thank and praise the Times for publishing this column by Jerome Groopman.

In the management of pain, death is a potential side effect, not unlike the way death is an accepted side effect of any medical intervention, including plastic surgery or acne treatment.

Pain management has been one of the major achievements of the last two decades; even in the '70s effective relief of pain was unknown to the medical profession. The attorney general's decision may erase two decades of medical progress and bring us back to the desperation of terminal pain.

Please take notice: I am a lifelong pro-lifer, and I do not condone abortion or euthanasia under any circumstances. The problem is that any law aimed to prevent physician-assisted suicide will, as a consequence, infringe on the right of patients with incurable diseases to have proper control of their pain. If the attorney general fails to grasp this concept, I question his appropriateness for the job. If he understands the concept and still pursues his policy, it means that he is playing cheap politics on the skin of dying patients.

Lodovico Balducci, M.D., Tampa

An abuse of power

While the nation's attention is riveted on the antiterrorist war, our attorney general, John Ashcroft, has quietly introduced regulations that will cause the most helpless of Americans to end their days in agony rather than being allowed a peaceful death.

More specifically, Ashcroft has in effect instructed his Drug Enforcement Administration agents to take punitive action against physicians who prescribe "lethal" drugs to terminally ill patients. (One must suppose the DEA agents will be the judges of what kind of drugs and dosages are "lethal.")

Officially, this directive applies only to the state of Oregon where voters passed overwhelmingly the "Death with Dignity Act" in 1997. In fact, the directive is a warning to all doctors throughout the country that DEA agents may be looking into their activities. And as a result there will inevitably develop a trend to cut back on all severe pain management medication.

This maneuver by the attorney general is clearly an abuse of power undertaken for the purpose of advancing his religious convictions, as well as to assuage the extremist right of his party. I devoutly hope that Congress will see to it that such shameful maneuvering will not be allowed to stand.

L. Rapoport, Sun City Center

Giving the shots

Re: Our flu shot system is sick, Nov. 7.

Howard Kleinberg was concerned about getting his flu shot at the local supermarket and wonders about other medical procedures being performed at car dealerships and Burger King.

I am one of the persons giving these flu shots. We are a group of very experienced, learned professionals who take time out of our schedules to do the service. We do not get paid our "usual" pay, neither do we get gas or mileage for going, coming or picking up supplies, to say nothing of the conditions of makeshift injection stations. We are a dedicated caring group of nurses who do this.

And I might add, we could do with a little less rudeness and inappropriate comments from some of the people who are waiting in line for services.

Judith Leahy, R.N., Largo

An odd story choice

Re: Sacred grounds, Floridian, Nov. 4.

Every person has the right to grieve in their own way, however, just because a family chose to put their parents' cremated ashes in a coffee pot, certainly doesn't warrant two pages of coverage.

The article belongs in the Enquirer, Weekly World News or Mad magazine.

We have two "eccentric" relatives who carry their husbands' ashes in the trunk of their car wherever they go.

With all the beautiful and exceptional funerals that have fallen on those lost in the World Trade Center, certainly they would have been more appropriate for a story. And for your information, the New York Times has been writing columns on every single person who died at the World Trade Center. I make it a point to to go the library and read them every week.

Now those writers were thinking and deserve a Pulitzer Prize.

Kathy Vecoli, Holiday

Speak out against hate groups

Re: More Muslim enemies from within our borders that cause little stir, Nov. 4.

Three cheers for Michelle Malkin for having the grit to speak out about the militant New Black Panther Party and its perfidious host Malik Zulu Shabazz's anti-American, anti-Semitic rhetoric. She is not alone in her wonderment as to the lack of critique by the government, media or the true American populace in general. These hate groups, spewing their radical extremism and fanatical, religious philosophies, are free to spread their poison in our institutions and on our campuses with very little recrimination. It is small wonder that real and sensible Americans feel violated and paranoid, notwithstanding the events of Sept. 11.

Shabazz's threats and racial comments are as presumptuous as they are despicable, and as a proud and patriotic American I'm furious that this kind of behavior can go on (especially when our country is at war) without fierce reprisal, at least in the mainstream media.

It is essential for our citizens to be made aware of and duly informed about these traitors and terrorists right here in our midst. God bless America!

T.R. Peterman, New Port Richey

Identifying our real opponents

Re: Identifying Arabs who live among us, by Bill Maxwell's column, Nov.4.

I look forward to all of Bill Maxwell's columns. They are all thought-provoking and insightful. I may not at all times agree with everything he writes, but, I still consider and believe that what he writes is intelligent and comes from the heart.

His column on Nov. 4, is something that every American should read. We Americans need to remember that this war that we are in is against monsters who might be Arabs, in some cases, and who claim to be Muslims fighting for the "Muslim cause." Those people who perpetrated the horrors of Sept. 11 are not truly religious people nor do they deserve to be referred to as human beings. They are outliers who need to be culled from humanity.

All Americans must remember that we or our ancestors came from another part of the world, even American Indians. We have become the great nation we are, because we have become one. The majority of immigrant groups who have come to our country have suffered discrimination of one type or another. It was not right then; it is not right now. We became a nation of "one" by the "many" standing together. We Americans must remember that and stand united.

In closing, I would like to offer my condolences to Mr. Maxwell and his family members for their loss at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

John R. Jakubowski, Largo

Don't give away our freedoms

Re: Nothing to hide but dust bunnies, letter,

Oct. 30.

The letter writer stated how he would welcome having the FBI search his house at any time and would let law enforcement agencies listen in on all his phone calls _ all in the name of "patriotism."

What the letter writer and others like him forget, is that true patriots died and will continue to die to fight for those freedoms he so nonchalantly wants to give away. He may want to read that silly Bill of Rights thing, or research the Revolutionary War or even World War II.

I would suggest to him and his cohorts that there are plenty of countries he could go to if he wants to live like that _ oh wait, Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, apartheid South Africa and East Germany don't exist anymore. But I believe China, North Korea or perhaps those nice boys with the Taliban over in Afghanistan would be happy to accommodate his wish to be watched over at all times by government officials all in the name of giving "broader powers to those who really want to preserve our liberties."

To those who agree with the letter writer, give away all your liberties that you want to, but keep your hands off mine. I will agree with him on one thing: God bless America _ and let's keep it America!

Charlotte Schiaffo, Tampa

Let's cut credit card rates, too

It was gratifying to see the interest rates reduced again in the hopes of stimulating the economy. The economy can only be turned around by seeing that the banks cut their credit card interest rates so that the volume of purchasers who need to borrow against their credit cards can get back to buying.

Although the Fed has lowered its lending rates, the credit card rate cuts have served to enrich the lending institutions but do little to stimulate the economy.

When are the House and Senate going to hold the banks accountable to help the citizens instead of the financial interests?

Mario L. Giaimo, Palm Harbor

Cable cash boost

Re: Cable fees for Time Warner to increase, Nov. 2.

Someone please check my math: Time Warner states it has 900,000 cable TV customers in the area. It is going to increase "bare-bones" basic service $1 per month.

900,000 customers X $1 = $900,000 per month.

$900,000 X 12 months = $10.8-million.

Yes, that's right _ 10-million, eight-hundred-thousand dollars. What's wrong with this picture?

Norman F. Norton, Largo

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