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MA Ballot Question 2: Prescribing Medication to End Life

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Real World, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    This is an interesting question. Should someone be able to ask for, and recieve, a prescription for medicine that will end their lives. Basically, it's assisted suicide by prescription med. What say you?


    WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

    A YES VOTE would enact the proposed law allowing a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life.

    A NO VOTE would make no change in existing laws.



    The Full Text is too long to post, so I'll post the listed arguments for, and against.

    Elections: 2012 Information For Voters


    ARGUMENTS

    As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

    IN FAVOR: When my father was diagnosed with brain cancer, he had little time left. As his final days neared, he chose to use the Death with Dignity law in his home state of Oregon. The Massachusetts version, like those in other states, will allow mentally competent adults with no chance to survive their illness to take life-ending medication prescribed by a physician.

    My dad knew he wanted to die in the comfort of his own home; competent and aware instead of detached and sedated; on his own terms instead of those of a fatal disease that had already taken too much.

    My dad was already dying, but because of this law, he could say goodbye to those he loved, with dignity and grace in my mother’s arms.

    I urge you to vote “Yes” because, while this choice isn’t for everyone, everyone has the right to this choice.


    Authored by:
    Heather Clish, Reading, MA
    Dignity 2012
    14 Mica Lane, Suite 210
    Wellesley, MA 02481
    781-237-5800
    Yes on Question 2 - Massachusetts Dignity 2012

    AGAINST: Question 2 restricts patients’ choices and control by enabling suicide as a substitute for quality health care. Question 2 is poorly written, confusing and lacks even the most basic safeguards. Patients would not be required to see a psychiatrist before obtaining the lethal drug. Many patients with a treatable form of depression could get a life-ending prescription, rather than effective psychological care. Also, the proposal lacks any public safety oversight after the fatal drug is obtained.

    Question 2 does not require a consultation for palliative care, a compassionate form of care that eliminates pain and maximizes quality of life for the terminally ill. And, eligibility is based on a six-month life expectancy. Doctors agree these estimates are often wrong. Individuals can outlive their prognosis by months or even years. Massachusetts should improve access to quality health care for terminally ill patients, not access to suicide. Vote no on Question 2.


    Authored by:
    The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide
    One Beacon Street, Suite 1320
    Boston, MA 02108
    617-391-9663
    Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide
  2. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I oppose assisted suicide because I think it could easily abused when dealing with the elderly, mentally ill, and those who are on strong meds. I think it's one of those issues that is best served by giving authority to judges and juries so that in those rare cases where assisted suicide (whether by a doctor or someone else) is an act of compassion, the person providing the medication receives little or even no punishment.
  3. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #11 Jersey

    Personally, I'd have to know more about the requirements to get such a drug prescribed.

    At first read the "against" argument sounds really valid...until you realize it contradicts itself.

    First it says, " Many patients with a treatable form of depression could get a life-ending prescription, rather than effective psychological care" but then, in the second paragraph, it says, "eligibility is based on a six-month life expectancy."

    No one would ever give a person suffering from depression a "six month life expectancy," since depression, by itself, is not a terminal disease.

    It sounds like, in their zeal to make sure assisted suicide is never allowed, they've gone overboard and lied about one thing or the other.

    I think if they made it so you did have to have a teminal diagnosis and receive counseling regarding pallative care and hospice services and have a consultation with a psychiatrist before receiving a lethal drug it would be a good thing....and it should be allowed.

    But that's just me....and I've seen too many people die badly.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012
  4. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

    Mrs.PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #11 Jersey

    So you would take the choice away from me, the patient, and give it to a judge or a jury?????

    Really?
  5. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yeah, because if you're on pain medication or suffer a mental disorder, you might not be able to think clearly. But, if your husband decided to kill you out out of compassion or your doctor decided to prescribe you something with which to kill yourself, I'd leave it in the hands of a judge or jury, which hopefully has the latitude to acquit or give little or no sentence. I don't think there's any great solution here, but I definitely think the risk of abuse is high. ("Pop's in terrible pain, and he's spending $5k/month of my inheritance at the nursing home. Might as well persuade to take some meds.")
  6. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact On the Roster

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    that's not how these decisions are made.....I guess it is possible for it to be abused, but not to the same degree as an entitlement that you ar ein favor of.

    if there is no chance for survival, I don't see how sending this person's money to a medical company instead of his children can benefit anyone but profiteers.

    If I was in that spot, I would prefer that my kids get the money.
  7. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #11 Jersey

    Maybe I'm confused....where does it say that the family or the doctor makes the decision? Isn't it the patient who has to make the request?

    I can see where a family might try to influence the patient, if that's what you're talking about....but it would still be on the patient to make the request and the doctor to decide if it was valid.

    That's why I said I'd like to see a consultation with a psychiatrist - a good shrink would be able to tell if it was the patient's decision or if he/she was being influenced by someone else.

    People on pain medication can still make decisions, Patters. When you're taking a narcotic to control severe pain it really doesn't affect you like it would if you were taking it recreationally. I've seen cancer patients on huge doses of morphine who were mentally alert....and still in pain.

    Elderly people can make decisions....my mother is 89 and perfectly capable of deciding what to do in any given situation.....and even if she wasn't, she made sure, by virtue of an advanced directive, that her wishes would be honored in the event of a mentally incapacitating event. If physician-assisted suicide had been an option in her home-state and at the time she made the directive, and she had chosen it, I'd honor it - although I would not have suggested it nor would I seek to have it done at a later date without her knowledge.

    Anyhow, I think your fear that a family member or a personal physician would be making the decision for a patient is unfounded.
  8. PatsWSB47

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    #12 Jersey

    This is one of things that I can't make my mind up about. The decision, even in the patients hands, could be tragic if its based on flawed information. Right now I'm thinking about all those the Aids patients that planned their lives short term when it looked like there was no hope. They'd cash in their life insurance, sell their homes, wind down their careers and education etc., etc. Then, boom! Good quality of life extending ****tails were discovered. Had assisted suicide been a legal and socially acceptable option at the time, I wonder how many people still alive today would have killed themselves thinking they were doing the right thing. How many would have been counseled into thinking there was no shame or even would have been told that it was the brave thing to do?

    Then I think of the painful existence that many people go through where they have no such options. It's just so final. That's why I hesitate.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012
  9. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Rookie

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    I'm OK with the law. It's restrictive enough to protect the people Patters is worried about. It would take tons of money out of the hand of those hypocritical doctors, hospitals and HMOs who claim to be interested in "do no harm". It will prevent some people from spending down part or all of their life savings for the sake of hanging on for another year in pain and misery. I'd be lying if the stance of the religiously concerned didn't influence my vote on this, as well. If they feel strongly about it,odds are that the best option is probably the opposite of their stance.
  10. OMGWTFJUDD

    OMGWTFJUDD Rookie

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    There's 7 billion people on the planet.

    If some want to leave early or some get pushed off early because they are cactus, then so be it.
  11. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    In the mental health field, I work with people who are in severe emotional distress, coupled with very poor family systems and major health issues. As far as narcotics go, most drugs do not leave one nonfunctional, but they impair judgment. Opiates relieve all emotion good and bad, and absolutely impair judgment because of that. An individual who wants to die does not need a prescription to do so if they are on strong medication. That said, I am for assisted suicide, but do not believe it should be legalized. I would have no problem with accepting the consequences if it was the right thing to do.
  12. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact On the Roster

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    does their severe emotional distress qualify them as being terminal? if not, it would not apply to them anyway. the person doesn't call the shot without the doctor qualifying it as being terminal
  13. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yes:

    If I am told I have no hope of living and if I am suffering.

    We put animals to sleep but keep humans alive to suffer when we know damn right well they are going to die anyway.

    :confused:
  14. Drewski

    Drewski Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    No need to pass this....just join the Hemlock Society.
  15. DarrylS

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    I agree completely with this, if I have a terminal illness and there is no hope of recovery I should have a choice.

    Reminds of Scott Naering, one of the fathers of the back to earth movement and a socialist as well, who when he reached the late 90's he starved himself to death so he would not be a burden to his family..
  16. DocHoliday

    DocHoliday Rookie

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    This happens all the time unofficially. Palliative Care nurses are known to occasionally 'put you to sleep' if you request it.
  17. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #11 Jersey

    "All of the time" and "occasionally" are two different things......and if and when it happens (and in my experience with hospice it happens only rarely) it generally does so only at the bitter end....after a prolonged and agonizing death process....certainly not when the patient is still rational and with some small measure of pain relief.

    The trouble with waiting for a nurse or a family member to make the decision is that they generally make the "kind" decision when they feel they've watched you suffer long enough - the patient has no real say so in - many patients tire of the pain and suffering long before those watching have had enough.
  18. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Rookie

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    I may be wrong, but apparently this bill won't help al lthe people who have "lost it" due to Alzheimers or dementia. They will not be able to make the decision to request this mercy, and if anyone should have it... In fact, personally, this would be the only time I'd want to do myself. Hopefully my brother will still have the balls to "take me out hunting" when and if it happens. We got a mutual pact. Feel sorry for the one who's left behind.

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