Puppies play in a cage at a pet store in...

Puppies play in a cage at a pet store in Columbia, Md., on Aug. 26, 2019. Credit: AP / Jose Luis Magana

Terminally ill need options as end nears

I respectfully disagree with Rabbi Marc Gellman’s use of the term "assisted suicide" when discussing medical aid in dying (MAID) in his God Squad column ["Suicide question is about more than forgiveness," On Faith, May 23].

Suicide is resorted to by persons usually with mental health issues that drive them to wish to end their lives.

MAID, which is currently legal in 10 states and Washington, D.C., is an end-of-life option for the terminally ill, with weeks or days to live, who wish to end their lives because of suffering despite all available medical/palliative interventions and no hope of recovery.

MAID legislation, currently under consideration by the New York State Legislature, specifically states that MAID is not assisted suicide. I urge readers who favor MAID to contact state legislators, seeking their support.

Dr. Yale Rosen, North Bellmore

Rabbi Marc Gellman discusses what he inappropriately terms "physician-assisted suicide" (although not taking a position on it).

Medical aid in dying is starkly different from suicide. People who die by suicide usually have a mental illness. They could continue to live but choose not to; they die in isolation, often impulsively, violently and tragically.

MAID, though, is available only to terminally ill patients who will soon die. The process usually takes at least several weeks after the requests for a prescription and occurs after consultation with two physicians and almost always with family support. It is empowering.

The term "assisted suicide" is rejected by several major health associations, and in state laws that permit MAID. In 2017, the American Association of Suicidology wrote: "Suicide is not the same as physician aid in dying," raising 15 points of distinction between the two.

Most important, the laws that authorize MAID, now covering about 25% of our population, have worked as intended. None of the problems has emerged as expected by opponents. The practice is safe, ethical and rarely used. It should be available to all terminally ill and mentally competent adult patients.

David C. Leven, Pelham

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director emeritus and senior consultant of End of Life Choices New York.

Dog lovers shielded from a few facts

I agree that bringing a dog into your family is a major decision ["State pet store ban would harm dog owners," Opinion, May 24]. This is where our similar viewpoints end, however.

Sheila Goffe conveniently omitted how the American Kennel Club stands to financially benefit tremendously by keeping puppy mills in business. To promote puppy mill "breeders" as responsible and regulated just because they have AKC papers is pulling wool over the eyes of New York dog lovers.

Many people don’t realize that these massive puppy factories are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — yes, the same agency that oversees large-scale factory farms. This has to make one think that an agency that aligns itself with the interest of big ag could well view dogs as livestock and just a means to production and profit.

The goal of rescue groups is to, literally, go out of business by ending pet homelessness. I wonder if the same can be said for the AKC and those who profit off the mass production of animals?

Mallory Kerley, Massapequa Park

Sheila Goffe’s implication that all pet store breeders are responsible is hard to believe.

Reputable and responsible breeders want lifelong, loving homes for their pups, and they ensure this by screening potential families. They do not sell them to retail shops, whose primary interest is profit and who hardly screen purchasers.

Puppy mills, where dogs are inhumanely treated, keep retail pet shops in business. Many retail pet shops advertise their puppies as "AKC registered." Goffe’s opinion makes me wonder what the real connection is between the AKC and retail pet shops.

Leslie Solomon, East Meadow

IRS must pay refunds without further delay

I see that people’s expected Internal Revenue Service tax refunds are being delayed, and they need to alter expenditures to meet the shortfall they are facing ["When refund is late but bills can’t wait," LI Business, May 23]. More than 30 million taxpayers are caught in this predicament.

I have a suggestion. Write our government representatives, asking them to pressure the IRS to process the returns of these law-abiding taxpayers without further delay.

Why should payments be held up to individuals who have already met their tax obligations, while those receiving stimulus payments and other financial aid are moved to the front of the priority list? This is unacceptable.

Tax refund payments should be the IRS’ No. 1 priority since these taxpayers have overpaid the government in the prior tax year. These overpayments are basically tax-free loans from taxpayers, and the government has decided that rather than repay them, it can utilize the funds at its discretion, blaming the repayment delay on staffing issues caused by the pandemic.

It’s just another excuse by the IRS to justify its faulty decision-making.

John Volpe, East Meadow