NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 11, 2012

Anderson: Taking stock of the ballot questions

I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to be able to vote on a “right to die” issue.

Also glad that the Legislature worked out a compromise bill on the “right to repair” issue, so that both sides are now urging voters to reject Question 1 and I don’t have to understand it.

I understand Question 2, and feel so strongly about it that I once hoped to do an initiative petition on the subject myself, starting a new organization called “Whose life is it, anyhow?” when I found the time. Now I’m the age where I might soon appreciate the right to choose “death with dignity.”

Of course, we must honor those whose religious beliefs don’t allow them this choice; nothing in Question 2 keeps them from clinging to the last painful hours of their lives if they want.

The strangest argument the “No” side uses is that “life is a gift.” Yes, it is, one for which I am grateful every day of my life: Thanks again, God. Now, this gift belongs to me, and I can choose how I want to use it. Thank you, God, for giving me free will. Thank you, Founding Fathers, for the First Amendment, which doesn’t allow any religion to impose itself on those who don’t belong to it. Finally, thank you, “Yes on dignity” campaign, for collecting all those signatures, giving me and other voters a chance to pass this law.

One argument used by opponents is that people can commit suicide now if they want to, though by generally more violent means. I’d posit that fewer people will prematurely kill themselves when receiving a bad medical prognosis if they know that if they enjoy a few months more of life to the point of physical weakness, they will receive assistance when they are finally really ready to go. So Question 2 becomes life-enhancing, as well as merciful.

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