Boston Massachusetts Attorney, Henry Luthin, offered the following reasons why he is voting against the assisted suicide referendum (Question 2) for the November 6 election.
Luthin, stated the following in an article that was published on October 6 in the Boston Herald that was entitled: Say no to doc-aided suicide.
Among the deficiencies in the proposed law are the following:
• This law is premised on the accuracy of a prognosis that a patient has just six months to live. Most doctors will admit that they have no ability with any degree of accuracy to predict the end of life.
• The petition does not require the patient to receive a psychological or psychiatric evaluation before being given a lethal dose of medication.
• There is no provision in this ballot language that mandates that immediate family members of a person taking the lethal prescription be notified of the legal suicide. That is a cruel and inhumane provision.
• There is no requirement that a doctor be present when the lethal prescription is taken.
• The act defines “self administer” to mean a patient’s “act of ingesting medication.” The act of ingesting does not mean that the patient administers the medication, merely that it is ingested.
There are other concerns. Many elderly see themselves as a burden to their families, with the threat even more so if they become terminally ill and this law passes.
Likewise, the law should not be an instrument in encouraging suicide. The law should protect and enhance the lives of the terminally ill. Finally, the act does not do anything to improve end-of-life care for a patient or promote better palliative care. As a commonwealth, we should strive to make hospice and palliative care a model for the country.
The Massachusetts Medical Society, the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, the American Academy of Neurology, and the disabilities rights organization Second Thoughts all oppose physician assisted-suicide. The Catholic Lawyers Guild is proud to stand with them.
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Henry Luthin is a lawyer in Boston.