Election 2012: Pros and Cons Of Physician-Assisted Suicide

  • Comments (9)

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – One of the more controversial questions on the Nov. 6 ballot is Question 2 – the Massachusetts Death With Dignity Act.


How will you vote on the Death With Dignity Act?

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How will you vote on the Death With Dignity Act?

  • Yes - the terminally-ill should have that option.

  • No - Suicide is wrong under any circumstances.

  • I don't know.

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Placed on the ballot by petition with the signatures of more than 68,000 registered voters, it has 15 core supporters, among them  Dr. Marcia Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Dan Brock, a  professor of medical ethics and director of the Division of Medical Ethics at the Harvard Medical School.

If approved, chapter 201G would allow mentally competent adults with no chance of surviving their illness to request life-ending medication prescribed by a physician.

The website www.YesOnDignity.com gives the following reasons to support the measure:

  • Terminally ill adults with six months or less to live would be allowed to receive a prescription for life‐ending medication.
  • The act gives patients dignity, control and peace of mind during their final days with family and loved ones.
  • These most intimate personal choices should remain in the hands of the patient, not the government.

Opponents have been vocal, stating the following reasons to oppose the question on www.StopAssisted Suicide.org:

  • A prognosis is just an estimate. Patients could end their lives months or even years before their time, based on an incorrect prognosis of having less than six months to live.
  • No psychiatric care is mandated. Patients faced with potential life-ending illnesses should receive not only physical care but also mental health assistance.
  • Proponents of physician-assisted suicide are attempting to bypass the state legislature by presenting an oversimplified and deeply flawed ballot question.

Organizations opposed to Question 2 include the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians.

The question has been endorsed by several groups, including the American Public Health Association and the American Medical Women’s Association.

Physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in three states, Oregon, Washington and Montana.

What is your opinion on physician-assisted suicide? Take our poll.

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Comments (9)

In this day of rising medical costs, with insurance companies cutting back approvals and the state and local governments looking to cut costs, this is EXACTLY the wrong time to pass an assisted suicide law. A hundred dollars of lethal pills is a lot cheaper than cancer treatments or complex operations.

So, these suicide drugs will be available through a pharmacy and don't have to be administered by a doctor?
1. What if the pharmacy mixes up customers medications like they sometimes do?--oops. (but pharmacies in MA never make deadly mistakes, right?)
2. It's administered at home... what if a child gets a hold of it?
3. As stated below, what if something goes wrong as the person is taking 100 pills at once with no doctor around?!

Not everyone believes that suicide is wrong under all circumstances. Once again, you are free to believe what you like but your beliefs should not be forced on the rest of us. In the few states where such laws have passed, under 100 people a year have availed themselves of it, not exactly a tsunami. Wording of the ballot question does not dictate final wording.

Keeping a heart beating artificially is also interference in the natural order.

As with the issue of abortion, so much here is individual, personal, and complicated. I want the choice, even if I choose not to.

Whoa, no one's forcing beliefs on anyone here. If someone wants to commit suicide that badly they can still find a way to do it (whether or not I agree with it). However, doctors swear an oath to protect the life of all their patients.

These previous comments bring up some legitimate concerns.

If you're concerned about keeping a heart "beating artificially", that person can already sign a DNR order or designate someone who can take them off life support, if that's their wish.

The prescribed medication is about 100 pills that have to be taken all at the same time! What if the person vomits? Also no mandatory psychiatric evaluation is required! So a depressed person could do this? Further, someone who has a stake in your property/inheritance could actually speak for you and tell a doctor that you are "ready" if you are unable to speak for yourself... as long as they can "translate your wishes"! Can you believe this? There are so many things wrong with this bill and yet nobody is paying attention since it sounds like "Death With Dignity"! The death certificate for an individuaI who ends their life this way would NOT say "physician assisted suicide"! It would list the underlying illness! A lie!! I know many people have watched loved ones suffer and wished that they could help speed along the process, but please read the entire proposal FIRST before voting yes on this!!

If our forefathers had supported something like this, it's entirely possible that many of us would not be here today looking at this article.

People can do amazing things for the greater good of humanity, even as they lay dying. It is an absolute tribute to faith and the spirit of life.

Even 100 doctors could be wrong about a prognosis...our human-created medicine and technology is limited just as we are limited in our understanding of life.
Is it not arrogant to believe that we humans are soooo great that it is within our knowledge, power and responsibility to permit this sort of thing?

it is flawed and ethically wrong. Often mis0diognosis are placed upon ill people and they live much longer than 6 months beyond that. A doctor will not be present when the death drug is taken, which alleviates Drs of the witnessing this tragic end of ones life. This law is focused on insurance companies not having to pay for extended treatment, and so I am against it