A week from today Massachusetts voters will vote on question 2, titled “Prescribing Medication to End Life“. This is a bad law.
In short, it allows physicians to describe a massive amount of narcotics to patients who have been told they have six months or fewer to live. Six months is a long time, and six months can often turn into more. No family notification or psychiatric consultation is required.
Though I made up my mind a while ago, I’m ashamed to admit I just now read the entire bill. One provision stuck out to me: doctors must recommend that a patient not end their life in a public place. This is what will pass for compassionate care? If there is a concern that someone might stop at the pharmacy and then down their hundred pills on a park bench, perhaps we should be prohibiting the activity, rather than requiring doctors to make recommendations on how to commit suicide.
We can do better than this. I know valiant people who work in the fields of hospice and palliative care who already do heroic work and could do even more with greater societal investment. Suicide among the physically healthy is often characterized as an “easy way out”. Some who oppose Question 2 suspect this law could make legal an “easy way out” for the more craven among us who do not want to be burdened with care of the elderly or disabled. Though I like to assume the best in people, it’s far too easy to imagine abuse of this process and disregard of the safeguards that its authors tried to ensure.
Here are arguments from three groups who also oppose Question 2:
From “No On Question 2”
From the “Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide”
If I were more careful, or more prudent, I would stop my post here. The real reason I oppose this bill is unpopular, and too easy to rebut, and if there are two things I hate, they are being unpopular and being rebutted.
Still, I can’t help but proclaim that suicide is just wrong. As a society and as individuals, we are given many opportunities to let death win. When we agree that life is not worth living, we are saying that life has no more to say here, that we know better than God or fate or Mother Nature or whatever you want to call it.
I know the counter-arguments, I’ve heard the anecdotes and I feel for the people who watched the decline of a loved one and wished there was a legal way to ease their suffering. I know that I’ve never been there, so I can’t say what I would want. Still, I’m not willing to enshrine in a law a concession to death that defies everything I’ve ever believed about life.