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Suicide Ballot Question "Seriously Flawed"

Dear Editor,

Question 2 on the ballot is a life or death question about whether to legalize physician assisted suicide for people with a progonosis of less than six months to live.  While none of us likes to watch anyone suffer, this initiative is seriously flawed. It lacks proper safeguards and a ballot initiative is not the way to deal with such a complex issue. 

Patients can be prescribed a lethal dose of drugs without being evaluated for depression, which is a treatable condition that is common with cancer patients. There is no clause to inform family members. Patients can end their lives without talking to a spouse. Making a diagnosis of life span is difficult. Senator Kennedy was given two months to live when diagnosed with brain cancer. He lived 14 months.

 Today's pain medication can effectively control the physical pain of terminal illnesses. There is no requirement to talk to palliative care professionals who are trained to help those with long-term diseases whether terminal or not. In the Commonwealth there is a strong network of hospice care for the sick.

Patients are in a vulnerable state and many will try to take advantage of them. There is no requirement to stop an heir to the patient's estate from taking advantage of the sick person. There is no protection for falsification of the death certificate and requirement that lists the true cause of death. There is no tracking of the lethal medication. The doctor is not required to be present when the medication is taken.

The idea of physicians encouraging suicide is opposed to the notion of preserving lives. The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Family Physicians Academy are opposed along with all the papers that have taken a stand on it. There is no conscience protection for pharmacists or doctors who do not want to dispense the deadly medication.

Given what is at stake here, an in-depth discussion is the least we should expect.  Please vote NO to this insanity.

Chris Petroff

Groton Herald

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