To the Editor:
In your editorial of Oct. 29 you expressed your support of Question 2 favoring support of Physician Assisted Suicide. The editorial mentions two states who have already said “yes” to Physician Assisted Suicide and related that since they have not had any problems where this measure has been placed, so you see no reason for misuse.
Well, I think you should add to that last line the word; “yet”. We need to seriously look into what doors we might be opening in the future; doors we may not be able to shut until it is too late. The fact that other states do something doesn’t mean the state of Massachusetts should jump off the same bridge. And, hasn’t the history of the United States of America been to be a beacon of light to the rest of the world? We should be a leader and make a decision on such a fundamental value as human life our own, based on well thought out reasoning.
I support the decision of the Massachusetts Medical Society to vote “No” on Question 2 for several reasons. Primarily, however, assisted suicide is suicide, and suicide is always a tragedy. True compassionate care does not involve killing...And a health care provider should not be an agent of killing. They are there to help or at least to “do no harm”. The fact that this society even considers such a thing demonstrates that over the last several decades we have went from a culture of life to a culture of death. Slavery was once thought of as a good idea by a great many states, but what was right finally prevailed.
Beyond that, the law is flawed and needs to be looked at on a number of levels and not just pushed through under a pretense of compassion. Here are some things to consider: Doctors agree that terminal diagnoses of six months or less are often inaccurate and patients often live months, even years longer. Question 2 does not require a patient to consult with a psychiatrist before receiving a prescription to commit suicide and many terminally ill patients suffer from depression.
Question 2 does not require a consultation with a palliative care or hospice expert. No doctor is present when the patient takes the lethal prescription. There is no requirement that the patient notify family members. And, lastly, and most importantly, we should be supporting improved hospice and palliative care statewide, not legalized suicide. As a nurse for over 40 years, I am appalled that the state has not made that the priority. Many well intentioned citizens have been brainwashed into the passage of this fundamentally flawed law. May all open their eyes to see that flaw, and vote “No” on Question 2!
Edwin J. Laverty, R.N.