No on Question 2
Boston Herald Editorial Staff - October 22, 2012
It is tempting to consider support for Question 2, the so-called “Death with Dignity” act, which seeks to ease the final days of terminally ill patients. None of us wants to see a loved one suffer; we do not want to endure such suffering ourselves. We can all imagine that moment when we might seek the ultimate escape from indescribable pain.
But the ballot initiative is deeply flawed. The Herald recommends voting NO.
The new law would allow willing physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for patients who have been diagnosed with an incurable illness that will cause death within six months, and who ask for the prescription that they would self-administer. Of course, such an estimate of life expectancy could easily be wrong.
The patient must be deemed mentally competent, but is not required to undergo any counseling to determine if the request may be motivated by, say, treatable depression. That is reason enough on its own to vote no.
It’s conceivable that some patients would resort to the lethal prescription not to ease their own suffering but to unburden loved ones. And there is deep concern about Question 2 within the medical and disability communities.
We are fortunate in this country — and in this commonwealth — to have a strong network of end-of-life services for the terminally ill. Hospice provides compassionate care. Access to palliative care could be improved, and that should be the focus of those who are committed to humane and dignified treatment of the dying.