Massachusetts State House Holds Hearing on Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 26, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Massachusetts State House Holds Hearing on Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 26
, 2010

Boston, MA ( — A bill in the Massachusetts legislature would make the state the fourth to legalize the practice of assisted suicide, following Oregon, Washington and Montana. Several groups and 10 individuals testified against the legislation in a hearing that hasn’t drawn much national attention yet.

Marie Sturgis, the legislative director for Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told about her testimony at the legislative panel.

"I testified, on behalf of Mass. Citizens, against the Physician Assisted Suicide Bill at the hearing along with representatives from the Massachusetts Hospice Association, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, and ten other citizens who had a personal interest in opposing the bill," she said.

Sturgis told she is worried that organizations are working overtime to try to get calls into the legislature to support the bill and that the media is pumping up the bill.

"It is worrisome, however, that the ‘push calls’ are being made, and that ‘the upcoming euthanasia hearings’ were featured on numerous news broadcasts the day before the hearings," she said.

Sturgis was emphatic during her testimony, which she posted at her group’s web site.

“Once we cross the line and we enter into the realm of the assisted suicide, we all become vulnerable,” Sturgis said. “It begins the systematic devaluation of human life.”

“No society should ever approve to take their own lives, whether it is using a doctor to help them or doing it themselves,” said Sturgis. “This is not death with dignity – it’s a situation that brings on sadness and sorrow.”

Rep. Louis Kafka, a Democrat, is the sponsor of H 1468, which would allow patients medically determined to have less than six months to live to request that their doctor prescribe drugs that would kill them.

But even one supporter of the proposal, William Stearns, who said he lost his mother, father and sister to terminal illnesses, said some terminal patients are not able to provide proper consent for an assisted suicide.

He also worried that patients who receive the lethal drugs could accidentally leave them someplace where children or other people could get access to them.

Eileen Lipkind of Stoughton testified for the bill and said her husband, Al Lipkin, asked Kafka to file the bill before he died of stomach cancer.

But disabled people opposed the measure during the Judiciary Committee hearing, including Denise Karuth of Florence — who is wheelchair bound.

“People ask me, ‘Why would a disability activist be opposed to this?’ ” said Karuth, according to the Milford Daily News. “The movement is based on the fear of loss of control.”

The newspaper said Karuth believes "such a law would make people with disabilities feel like they should die if they couldn’t pay their health insurance or were suffering from abuses."

Related web sites:
Massachusetts Citizens for Life –

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