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