Writing to the Berkshire Eagle, MCFL member, Gabriel Greenspan recently addressed the committee vote on Massachusetts' assisted suicide bill (S.2745), noting a state promoting physician assisted killing is "the opposite of love."
"End of Life Act" is the opposite of love, published in The Berkshire Eagle, June 19, 2020
Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel stated, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” I cannot help but think of this quote as I consider the misnamed End of Life Options Act (S.1208 Brownsburger/H.1926 Kafka).
The End of Life Options Act forbids physicians from ending their patients’ lives through assisted suicide. However, it allows physicians to “contact a pharmacist, inform the pharmacist of the [life-ending] prescription, and deliver the written [life-ending] prescription personally, by mail, or by otherwise permissible electronic communication to the pharmacist, who will dispense the [life-ending] medications directly to either the patient, the attending physician, or an expressly identified agent of the patient.” At least physicians aren’t assisting in suicide.
This obvious disingenuity aside, I commend the authors of this legislation for including safeguards which seek to prevent abuse. These safeguards include mandating that two physicians attest that the patient is terminally ill (meaning that s/he will most likely die in six months), mandating that a mental health professional certify that the patient isn’t depressed or suffering from a psychological or psychiatric disorder, and mandating that two witnesses affirm that the patient isn’t being coerced.
However, notice all the parties here who ought to care about and protect the patient but who are indifferent as the patient seeks to take his/her life. Two physicians, who are trusted to do their patients no harm, are certifying that a patient is ‘qualified’ to end his/her life. A mental health professional, who specializes in preventing self-harm, is attesting that a patient is ‘competent’ to commit the worst kind of self-harm, namely suicide, and, in a nation with laws which recognize that every life has worth, two witnesses are legally paving the way for the patient to end his/her life forever because s/he is “acting voluntarily.”
In theory, all of this can only happen if the patient has six months or less to live. However, both the life experience of multitudes and common sense indicate that, when a doctor says how long a person is expected to live, s/he is only estimating and could quite possibly be wrong. If this legislation passes, assisted suicide may still be banned, but something far worse, indifference in the face of suicide, will be allowed. Please join me in calling State Sen. Adam Hinds at 413-344-4561 or 413-768-2373 to urge him to oppose this radically unloving piece of legislation.
In the Netherlands, a woman who repeatedly told her MD not yet, was euthanized at that same doctor's orders.
Dr. Arends, who had attended the woman from the beginning of her illness with dementia, said, "‘I believed that her suffering was truly awful and I knew that it could last for a long time,’
The woman, whose name was withheld in the interview Dr. Arends granted Dutch News, had signed a living will in which she requested that she be killed before she died naturally if the disease progressed "unbearably." However, she also stated that she required her medical team to secure verbal and written consent when the time came.
Neither Dr. Arends, nor anyone else, got that confirmation. In fact, as has been previously stated, she told them multiple times that she did not want to be euthanized.
Arends was brought to court for her actions, but ultimately exonerated. In a bewilderingly bewildered statement, she reflected that she was stunned by the possibility of jail. ‘It is bizarre. ‘It’s the first time that I realized that an accusation of murder was even possible, in court. You see images of a jail cell before you. It has such a huge personal impact.’
She did not, however, comment on the huge personal impact of being dead, and more than that, killed without your consent by your own MD. Apparently, that fact was too bizarre to enter her mind.
The most troubling aspect of the story is the statement made again and again by Arends that she "knew best." Even to the point of adding a sedative to her patient's coffee so that the woman could not protest, Arends stands by her judgement as if she had a divine mandate to relieve another human being of pain -- and life.
This is the brave new world of assisted suicide. If a human being has a right to request suicide, why isn't their right to accept suffering honored at the same level? And when a physician can substitute their will for yours, their judgment for yours, whose right is it anyway?
Please read on to inform yourself about the proposed doctor prescribed suicide law in Massachusetts (S.2745), which has just be voted favorably out of committee into Health Financing. (Updated as of: 17 June 2020)
Join MCFL now and make give voice to those with no voice by calling your legislator and asking them to oppose "An Act Relative to End of Life Options" (S.2745).
Use the main State House number and request your representative by giving your zip code:
617 722 2000
Access key facts about this anti-life bill here: Key Facts, S.2745
Read the Mass. Citizens for Life media advisory about S.2745 here.
MEDIA ADVISORY: ASSISTED SUICIDE BILL VOTED ON "FAVORABLY" IN MASSACHUSETTS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY
Boston, MA - 9 June 2020 -- Last week, the members of the Joint Committee on Public Health voted S.2745 (previously S.1208), "An Act Relative to End of Life Options" favorably out of committee.
This is the first time in history a bill related to physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has cleared its committee assignment.
Patricia Stewart, Esq., executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and one of the Commonwealth’s leading experts in the legalities of PAS, said: "The bill’s soothing catch phrases can disguise, but they cannot change, the bill’s ugly reality, which is the intentional ending of a human life in secret. We cannot permit this dangerous policy to become law in Massachusetts. The life of our most vulnerable family members and neighbors depend on it."
Difficulties in ensuring Massachusetts’ high standards of patient care, and the impossibility of protecting at-risk patients from abuse, have plagued this version of the bill and its predecessors. Citizens and legislators have shelved it repeatedly, while out-of-state suicide advocates have lobbied it back onto the agenda again and again.
Dr. Mark Rollo, MCFL board member and family physician in Fitchburg, MA, highlighted the bill’s perils in an automated call reaching citizens across the state.
State sanctioned suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. The American Medical Association has strongly rejected it. Physicians make mistakes. No law can include a safe guard for this simple fact.
- Elder abuse will be exacerbated via potential coercion to take suicide pills.
- Insurance companies will have an incentive to cut costs by denying expensive care and approving the affordable solution of suicide.
- The COVID-19 pandemic elicited discussion of rationing of care, putting people with disabilities and the elderly at the end of the line. The same logic can be applied to assisted suicide.
- Recent mass protests have reminded us that minorities still suffer from discrimination. Inevitably the poor and people of color will be steered toward suicide.
MCFL, in its mission to protect and respect the lives of every individual human being in Massachusetts, continues to oppose this bill and this week encouraged its members to contact their state representatives. The response has been tremendous.
"There is nothing more painful than witnessing a loved one face the challenges that often accompany the end of life. Yet there is nothing more precious than the human life itself," said Myrna Maloney Flynn, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. "And so there is never too much energy or care we can expend when it comes to seeing our laws reflect that truth. This bill is deeply flawed, whatever your stance on the issue, and will endanger our at-risk neighbors and family. There are far more meaningful and humane end-of-life options our society should promote, namely palliative care and hospice services.”
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The doctor prescribed suicide bill has been voted favorably out of committee onto the house for a formal vote during the COVID pandemic.
We need you to call the State House today and ask your legislator to vote NO on doctor prescribed death, S.2745. Call 617 - 722 - 2000 and request your representative's office by giving the operator your zip code.
You can also look up your representative using your zip code here and email them. You may also contact them via social media, and this is a great mini tutorial for doing just that: Social Media and Contacting Your Elected Representative
Listen to expert Dr. Mark Rollo's call to voters across the state here.
Some key points to remember when reaching your representative or posting on social media:
- COVID19 mostly kills the elderly, the already-ill and people with disabilities. The assisted suicide bill, S2745, will endanger these individuals even more.
- The doctors deciding who is eligible for assisted suicide are the same ones who were perfectly comfortable putting the elderly, the immunocompromised, and people with disabilities at the back of the line for life-preserving COVID treatment. Legalized assisted suicide will make medical discrimination worse and ageism worse.
- The assisted suicide bill is fatally flawed and ripe for abuse, coercion and mistakes. When care is expensive and suicide is cheap, the bill tells elders, the immuno-compromised, and people with life-threatening disabilities that their lives are worth-less.
- If Massachusetts legalizes assisted suicide, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through insurance denials, mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted, or even proposed, that can prevent this outcome which can never be undone once it is put into effect.
REMEMBER THE CALL TO ACTION:
Use the primary state house number (617 - 722 - 2000) and request your district representative and state senator’s offices. Call and ask them to oppose S2745, the assisted suicide bill. Call the Health Care Financing Committee at (617) 722-1432 to request that they allocate no funding for a bill that will take innocent lives.
You can also look up your representative using your zip code here and email them.
Send us your success reports via email or on social media! Your stories encourage your fellow citizens to continue to fight for the vulnerable!
by John Kelly
[ This piece has be reprinted by permission of the author from the article of the same name, published in the Worcester Telegraph, December 24, 2018 ]
In a recent Wicked Local Lexington commentary (“Medical aid in dying important for some with disabilities,” Sept. 28), Michael Martignetti argues for the legalization of assisted suicide from the perspective of someone with the progressive neurological disability, Friedrichs ataxia. I can relate to the author’s disability experience, as 35 years ago a spinal cord injury left me paralyzed from the neck down. Like Martignetti’s, my disability will present challenges as I age.
But whereas Martignetti frames assisted suicide as a personal choice in the face of “unbearable suffering,” I see a state-run program that will result in people losing their lives to misdiagnosis, treatment denial, and coercion/abuse, and depression. Not all families are united in loving and supporting us.
Doctors often make diagnostic mistakes: between 12 percent to 15 percent of people admitted to hospice as “terminally ill” outlive the six-month prediction. Many more who never enter hospice also outlive their diagnosis. For example, the late Senator Ted Kennedy lived a full year longer than his diagnosis of 2 to 4 months, while Florence resident John Norton credits 60 years of good life to the unavailability of assisted suicide after a mistaken prognosis.