Assisted Suicide On The Ballot In Massachusetts

On my ballot, will be assisted suicide.  The question is should a person who has been given six months or less to live, can ask a doctor for a prescription of Seconal to end their life.  The AMA has come out against it.  If the ballot questions passes, Massachusetts will be the third state to approve such a measure.

This is a hard question for me.  When I was in practicing as an NP in HIV/AIDS medicine I would periodically have a patient request assistance with ending their life.  The first time someone asked me, I was at a loss of what to say.  I knew I had to think about it.  I couldn’t do it.  First, it was illegal.  Finally, I couldn’t  write the prescription even if it was legal.

To me it is a question I still wrestle with.  I believe that people have the right to make the decision.  I just can’t be the one to participate.  It is too hard for me to provide the medications that allows someone to die.  It is personal.

For me, this issue is more about how our culture doesn’t accept that death as part of living.  Medicine does everything to keep people alive that death becomes the enemy.  How many times have I heard doctors in the ICU tell families that they think they can save their loved one when it is so obvious there is no hope?  It only gives false hope to families who are struggling with an impending death of a loved one.

I was still undecided on my vote until I heard an radio ad against the proposition.  There was a psychiatrist who said that many terminally ill patients are depressed.  He went on to say that there is medication for depression so they can be treated and get well.  Get well? There lies the problem with medicine.  A psychiatrist telling a dying patient a medication is going to make them feel well.  How absurd.  They just lost my vote.