, Salem, MA

Election Forum

October 24, 2012

Our view: No on Question 2

Those of us who have sat at the bedside of a loved one who was wracked in pain and wasting away in the last stages of illness can understand the support for end-of-life measures like Question 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot, the so-called “Death With Dignity” measure. When someone is in such agony, is suffering so badly, how can we not respect their right to end their life if they so choose?

While certainly arguable, Question 2 is not the answer. The law would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill adult patients given six months or less to live. On the surface, it’s a reasonable approach to the issue of patient’s rights and physician-assisted suicide. Dig a little deeper, however, and serious flaws appear.

The most disturbing loophole is the lack of a requirement for a psychological screening. While a patient must be deemed competent to make the decision to end their lives, there is no real examination to determine if the patient is suffering from a treatable condition such as depression, a leading risk factor for suicide.

Once a doctor prescribes the drug, there are no safeguards in place to monitor how it is used by the patient. No doctor is required to be on hand to witness when the lethal dose is consumed, and there are no real measures in place to make sure a patient is not being coerced by a family member.

Even physicians will tell you end-of-life estimates are often wrong. Patients told they have six months to live have often exceeded that artificial end date, sometimes by years.

The measure is opposed by the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents more than 23,000 physicians statewide. “Physicians of our society have clearly declared that physician-assisted suicide is inconsistent with the physician’s role as healer and health care provider,” said the society’s president, Dr. Lynda Young.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Election Forum

Local News
  • Keenan to resign to take Salem State job

    SALEM — State Rep. John Keenan said Tuesday he will resign from office Aug. 24 to take a new job as vice president of administration at Salem State University.
    His announcement ended months of speculation about where the five-term Democrat would end up after leaving the Legislature. As it turns out, he is leaving four months before his term would have expired.

    July 29, 2014

  • Axe in Windshield Close call on I-95 in Topsfield when loose ax chops through windshield

    TOPSFIELD — Some motorists on Interstate 95 southbound had a scary moment Wednesday around 11 a.m. when a loose ax flew off a landscaper dump truck in front of them and cleaved partly through their car's windshield.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chism attorney challenging legislation

    DANVERS -- The attorney for the Danvers teen charged with raping and murdering his math teacher last October is arguing that the 1996 state law requiring that he be tried as an adult is unconstitutional. The argument by Philip Chism's attorney comes

    July 30, 2014

  • 140729_SN_DLE_PATROL4 Party problems persist in Point SALEM -- 'Tis the season for parties in the Point. Three years after a large Fourth of July gathering in the densely inhabited neighborhood led to a violent confrontation between partygoers and police, Chief Paul Tucker says his department continues

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • lottery.jpg 'Lucky' Salem store sells $15M lottery ticket

    SALEM -- An anonymous person used a trust to claim a $15 million grand prize Tuesday from a $30 scratch ticket bought at a local corner store. It is the largest instant "scratch and win" prize ever in the state's history. Nicole's Food Store at 406

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo