New polling shows votes in Massachusetts are closer to defeating Questions 2 — the ballot proposal that would may the Bay State the third to legalize assisted suicide.
A new poll in the Boston Globe yesterday found support for Question 2 at 47-37 percent while a Suffolk poll had the race at 47-41 percent favoring the measure. Although Question 2 is leading, support for it has dropped from a recent poll showing a 68-20 percentage point lead. The poll surveyed 600 likely voters using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users and reported a 4 percent margin of error.
“Our work and the ads are working. We are in a great place for a vote no committee,” Massachusetts Citizens for Life said. “After the polls came out yesterday, the death lobby bought more ad time – they are worried.”
The Catholic Church is among the most outspoken opponents of Question. Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley last week urged parishioners to vote against the measure in a special homily that was broadcast to all parishes in the archdiocese.
“Laws must not be born out of emotions. Laws need to reflect the moral law, the common good and the protection of the most vulnerable,” O’Malley said in the talk.
In an appeal to non-religious voters, O’Malley also said the law is bad policy. He said terminal diagnoses are often wrong.
Meanwhile, The Cape Cod Times says: Vote No on Question 2.
Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot, if it were to pass on Nov. 6, would allow a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally ill patient who meets certain conditions, to end the person’s life.
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The law as proposed would give a patient, who is given a prognosis of less than six months to live, the ability to request a lethal prescription to end his life.
Question 2 is flawed because it does not require a patient to consult with a psychiatrist before receiving a prescription to commit suicide, and as many as 40 percent of terminally ill cancer patients suffer from clinical depression.
Although Question 2 requires physicians to present alternatives to assisted suicide, such as palliative or hospice care, the ballot initiative fails to ensure patients have adequate access to these forms of care, according to the Committee Against Physician-Assisted Suicide. It does not require them to seek assistance from a palliative care facility or from social workers or other professionals who are familiar with palliative care alternatives.
“Although this is referred to as physician-assisted suicide, there is no physician involved in the process, and the lethal dose is most often taken at home with no guidance or supervision,” said Thomas Dwyer of the committee.
In addition, thousands of concerned doctors, nurses, hospice workers, religious leaders and citizens are opposed to Question 2. For example, the Massachusetts Medical Society, a statewide professional association, opposes physician-assisted suicide.
Dr. Richard Aghababian, president of the society, said in a press release that the organization’s stand against Question 2 is based on the idea that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.
He also said that predicting a person’s end of life within six months is difficult, as such predictions can be inaccurate. Dr. Aghababian added that the ballot question also lacks provisions to ensure that patients are protected from making uninformed decisions and being coerced into making a decision.
The Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians, the state’s largest organization of family physicians, joined the society and the Massachusetts Osteopathic Society in urging voters to defeat Question 2.
“The role of family physicians is to provide compassionate, high quality health care to the all patients, in each stage of life,” said Dr. Joseph Gravel, president of the academy, in a press release. “This certainly includes end-of-life care. It is clear that we need to continue to work to provide those suffering from serious illnesses, depression, and other conditions that can lead to hopelessness highly effective palliative and hospice treatments that are now available.”
Dr. Gravel said the lack of safeguards in the Question 2 language is particularly troubling.
“This is literally a life-and-death issue for very vulnerable people,” he said. “Using the blunt instrument of a ballot initiative in which the voter only has two choices — yes or no — to decide what a physician can or cannot do in such a nuanced, complex area of medical practice is a disservice to citizens of the commonwealth, our patients and our own families.”
Gravel said the state should enhance palliative and hospice care programs, which are chronically underfunded and underutilized.As Dwyer said, “Improving hospice, palliative and other end-of-life care options should be the priority — not promoting physician-assisted suicide.”We recommend voting “no” on Question 2.