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Massachusetts Fails to Become Third to Legalize Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt | Boston, MA | LifeNews.com | 11/7/12 11:52 AM

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A coalition of pro-life groups, churches, disability rights advocates and doctors and nurses joined forces to defeat an effort by euthanasia proponents to make Massachusetts the third state to legalize assisted suicide.

As LifeNews reported, voters defeated Question 2 at the ballot box, with the measure ultimately losing 51-49 percent with most votes tallied.

John Kelly, Director of Second Thoughts – People with Disabilities Opposing Question 2, the main group against the ballot measure, credited that diverse coalition of opponents with dealing a significant setback to the expansion of the assisted suicide movement throughout the United States by Compassion & Choices (the organization formerly known as the Hemlock Society).

“Tonight was a huge victory for those of us in the disability rights community that have worked for so long against assisted suicide,” he said late Tuesday. “This vote confirms that Massachusetts voters saw through the rhetoric and outright misinformation put out by those supporting assisted suicide.  Opposition to assisted suicide cuts across all partisan and ideological groups because the more people learn about the issue, the more they have second thoughts. Assisted suicide doesn’t expand choice, it limits choice – and that puts at risk anyone living with a disability, mental illness or serious illness.”

The defeat almost didn’t happen as a late September poll sponsored by the Boston Globe and conducted by the University of New Hampshire showed 68% of Massachusetts voters in favor with just 19% opposed.

“The turnaround on this campaign was remarkable.  Generally, when you see support for a ballot question in the high sixties it should be a slam dunk.   We knew from the beginning this would be an uphill battle and that to be successful we had to stay disciplined in our message, highlighting the ballot question’s significant problems and effectively communicate those to voters across Massachusetts.  This campaign certainly exceeded a lot of expectations,” said Tim Rosales, campaign strategist for No On 2.

Wesley J. Smith, a noted attorney who monitors end of life issues, chimed in on the defeat.

“In the one bright spot of a dismal election, the backers of Question 2–which would have permitted doctors to engage in prescribed suicide–have conceded defeat in a very close election; 51%-49,” he said. “Ironically, this is the same margin by which Oregon passed Measure 16 way back when, unleashing the never-ending struggle to redefine suicide into “death with dignity.”

The Catholic Church was among the most outspoken opponents of Question 2.  Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley 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.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, the statewide professional association of physicians with more than 24,000 members, also declared its opposition to the November ballot question on assisted suicide.

“These are important health care questions for the state,” said Richard Aghababian, M.D., the Society’s president, “and patients deserve to know what we think and where we stand on these issues.”

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Dr. Aghababian said the Society’s position on Question 2, Prescribing Medication to End Life, is consistent with the organization’s long-standing policies against physician-assisted suicide. as voted by member physicians of the organization’s House of Delegates.

Following legalization in Oregon, a woman was told that her health plan would not cover the cancer treatment she needed but rather would cover the cost of her suicide.  And the case was not an isolated incident. Assisted suicide legalization in Oregon has put patients at risk by putting financial pressure on physicians to prescribe suicide. “It’s chilling when you think about it,” said Dr. William Toffler, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. “It absolutely conveys to the patient that continued living isn’t worthwhile.”