Compassion to the Terminally Ill

On Election Day in November, 2012, the people of Massachusetts will likely be asked to accept or reject the so-called “Death with Dignity” Act. If passed, it will allow an adult resident of Massachusetts, deemed to have the capacity to make health care decisions, and determined by two physicians to have a disease that will likely result in death within six months, to request and receive a prescription for a lethal drug that he or she may self-administer.

What is Doctor-Prescribed Suicide?

Doctor-Prescribed Suicide, sometimes called physician-assisted suicide, is deliberately and intentionally providing an individual with a lethal drug to commit suicide.

In what states is it legal?

In 1994, Oregon voters made assisted suicide into a “medical treatment.” In 2008, voters in Washington did the same. Doctor-Prescribed Suicide is still a crime in 44 states. Now, Massachusetts has been targeted as *THE* next state where assisted suicide will become legal.

How will the Massachusetts law work?

Two witnesses need to say that the patient is capable, acting voluntarily, and is not being coerced. The prescription must be dispensed to the person or his agent.
The law does not require witnesses at the death and states that the person must self-administer the drug. When the patient dies, the death certificate must list the cause of death as the underlying illness, not the effect of the lethal drugs.

“We should ensure that the families of people with terminal illnesses will never feel they have been left alone in caring for their needs. The claim that the ‘quick fix’ of an overdose of drugs can substitute for these efforts is an affront to patients, caregivers and the ideals of medicine.”

USCCB: To Live Each Day with Dignity

“Our society will be judged by how we treat those who are ill and the infirm. They need our care and protection, not lethal drugs. Suicide is always a tragedy. A vote for assisted suicide would be a vote for suicide.”

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston