“Assisted Suicide” or “Compassionate Care”? – Massachusetts

By Harry S. Margolis

I’m back from running for office (Governor’s Council — check out my campaign website). 

But with the general election coming up on November 6th, Massachusetts has an interesting ballot question before it: will it join Oregon and Washington states in permitting terminally ill patients to receive prescriptions to end their own lives.

Along with this ballot question comes the issue of nomenclature — should this be called “assisted suicide,” “compassionate care,” “death with dignity,” or “right to die”?

This came up when a link to a description of the ballot question referred to it as a referendum on “assisted suicide.”  Apparently, that term is used by opponents of the measure while advocates prefer the other three terms.

In any case, the ballot measure would permit a physician to prescribe medication to end a patient’s life if the patient is deemed (1) to have an incurable disease that will end his or her life within six months, (2) to be capable of making an informed health care decision, and (3) to have asked voluntarily for the assistance.

Click here for the Secretary of State’s detailed description of the ballot measure along with arguments for and against its passage.

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