Everyone dreads dying alone, incapacitated and in excruciating pain. But should a person in such circumstances have the right to commit suicide with the help of others? The question has long stirred heated debate among religious leaders, jurists and medical ethicists. Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical letter in March strongly condemning the practice. And the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear two appeals of cases challenging Michigan's law against assisted suicide. Still pending are court challenges to Oregon's law legalizing some forms of assisted suicide, approved last November as a ballot initiative. As the controversy rages, some experts are arguing that interest in assisted suicide would decline if terminally ill persons had more access to hospice care and effective pain management.