Have the strength to sign your letters
To the editor:
I recently had the unfortunate experience of getting an anonymous letter stating that because I had signs supporting Democratic candidates in my yard, the writer can no longer respect me as a physician. I have strong enough self-esteem that I do not worry about an individual who cannot separate politics from personal beliefs. However I am saddened that the writer’s self-esteem is so low that he/she could not sign the letter so that I could personally respond.
The letter I received assumes that the writer knows my beliefs regarding life and death issues. As a physician, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the many life and death issues that we all face. Euthanasia, capital punishment and abortion are complex life and death issues. More subtle issues that can limit life are poverty, hungry, illness and access to medical care. As a physician I follow ethical standards regarding the care I provide to patients. I try to use those same ethical standards when I formulate beliefs regarding societal issues. Since there are so many issues that affect life as well as death, there is not one issue that is more important than all others.
I generally do not share my personal beliefs regarding the right to life or the right to die with dignity. I counsel patients regarding their rights and try to support them in their decision. That is the approach my personal ethics require. Like most people, I don’t agree 100% with either political party. I don’t vote based on only one issue. I am hopeful for our future under President Biden as he moves to unify our divided nation. Success will be measured in our ability to come together as a nation to solve the many problems we face. Success starts with each of us being brave enough to sign the letters we write.
Joan Krikava, MD