There are clangers in legalizing assisted suicide or eudianasia,rnmainly concerning competent and informed consent. Butrnthese dangers can be surmounted by appropriate precautions.rnOnce we discard the presumption (actually a circular definition)rnthat all persons bent on suicide ipso facto are insane, wernhave to make sure that those requesting assistance are mentalK’rncompetent. Some objectors insist that this can never be reliablyrnascertained. This seems absurd. Laymen as well as psychiatristsrnare quite capable of distinguishing persons of sound mindrnfrom others who, temporarily or permanentiy, are not. Were itrnnot so, valid contracts or wills could never be made, and nornbusiness could be done. It is bizarre to argue that we can distinguishrnthe sane from the insane except when it comes to peoplernwho wish to die. The possibility of abuse which bedevils allrnhuman practices can never be eliminated altogether, but safeguardsrncan minimize abuse. To argue that physicians, oncernthey are authorized to help those who request help to end theirrnlife, would also shorten the life of people who wanted to lie isrnno better than arguing that once physicians are authorized tornamputate diseased limbs, they will amputate healthy ones asrnwell. No slope is that slippery.rnWli- does suicide have such a bad reputation? It defies whatrnwe instinctively feel and want to believe: that life is alwaysrnworth living, whatever the circumstances. It seems to reject lifernitself and thereby to breach the solidarity of the living. Withoutrnthis solidarit)-, there can be no society. Human solidarity, cultivatedrnby religious, political, and educational institutions, takesrnmany forms. But those who breach it by suicide are always seenrnas renegades. They used to be ostracized even in death. Platornurged that they be interred in “isolated” graves. In the MiddlernAges, they were denied consecrated ground, and a stake wasrndriven through their hearts. Yet some cultures have made allowancesrnfor suicide. It has not endangered their societies. Suicidernis not infectious (despite occasional imitations), and it isrnunlikely ever to become popular enough to endanger any societ}’.rnNothing is lost, then, if we stop hindering or prohibiting assistance.rnSomething is gained. We will, at last, allow individualsrnto control their lifespan within the boundaries set by nature,rnand we will reduce or eliminate the immense undeserved sufferingrnto vhich hitherto we have sentenced so many innocentrnpeople.rnRefrainsrnhy R. S. GwynnrnWhat words suffice to save beleaguered thrones?rnIf simple iteration holds the key,rnI don’t remember meeting Paula Jones.rnI don’t recall, for deep within my bonesrnLurks plausible deniabilit)’.rnWhat words suffice to save beleaguered thrones?rnLike Sisyphus, who rolled redundant stones,rnM’ fate is to repeat eternally:rnI don’t remember meeting Paula Jones.rnWliat counts is that postcrit}’ condonesrnAll kinds of excess: look at Kennedy.rnWiat words suffice to save beleaguered thrones?rnLess said the better, Wisdom’s voice intones.rnStonewall it, offers one preceding me.rnI don’t remember meeting Paula Jones.rnAnd if I didn’t use the Wliite Llouse phonesrnOr tape myself like Nixon, glorv’ be!rnWhat words suffice to save beleaguered thrones?rnWe don’t remember meeting Paula Jones.rn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn