Testimony Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide: Domenico Bettinelli

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Many pro-lifers testified before the Joint Public Health Committee of the Mass. Legislature on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 against a bill that would legalize doctor-prescribed suicide. The testimonies were limited to 3 minutes. We’re bringing you a sample of those testimonies.

Good morning Mr. Chairperson and Madame Chairperson,

My name is Domenico Bettinelli and I am the director of community engagement for Massachusetts Citizens for Life and I am speaking on behalf of Mass. Citizens for Life.

 

I do not support S.1225/H.1194, An Act Relative to End of Life Options because it endangers the innocent, the elderly and the vulnerable among us, putting them at risk so that the “option” to end their lives might become the “obligation” to do so. We have seen examples of this even before assisted suicide was legalized in some places. In 1976, Ann Wickett Humphry was a co-founder of the Hemlock Society, precursor to today’s Compassion & Choices with her husband Derek. But in 1990 she divorced him and filed a lawsuit against him and the Hemlock Society, claiming that he had been using her chronic depression and breast cancer diagnosis to convince her to kill herself. Sadly, she died alone in the Oregon wilderness the following year. Official cause of death was suicide. (“Hemlock Society Co-Founder A Suicide, Ex-Husband Says,” The Washington Post, Oct. 9, 1991

Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness is an especially horrifying and difficult time for an individual and a family. Most people undoubtedly know someone who has experienced it. We know it can be a massive strain on a person, but also on their loved ones who support them through it. But not every family is supportive and not every terminally patient has the strength of will and fortitude to carry on alone, despite pressure.

Once the doctor-prescribed suicide genie is out of the bottle, how many men and women with terminal diagnoses—some of them coping with psychological challenges like depression on top of it—how many of them would be vulnerable to coercion from family or friends who tell them they are a burden, that they should just let go, that they’d be better off dead? After all, if it’s legal, it must be good?

What someone suffering a terminal diagnosis needs is the protection of the law, a protection to keep them from being manipulated and badgered into making a decision that’s more about the convenience of others than about living their own life to the fullest.

In a way, we all have a terminal diagnosis. Our lives are finite. It’s just a matter of time before we die. So we should live our lives to the fullest each day. And we should ensure that even those who might have a shorter time than we do can as well.

Again, I oppose S.1225/H.1194 and thank you for the opportunity to speak.

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