My Turn: Considering death in a time of pandemic

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Published: 5/10/2020 12:43:31 PM

This challenging pandemic that surrounds us brings up many feelings and possibly more thoughts about death than we normally might be having. Can we use this crisis as an opportunity to consider more fully what death means in a broader sense and how we can ease pain and suffering?

I want to add my voice in support of making our state the 11th to pass a Death with Dignity law. The bill in the Massachusetts legislature, called “The End of Life Options Act,” would allow terminally ill and mentally capable people the option to end their suffering by medication prescribed by their doctor, if the best efforts of hospice and palliative care weren’t enough to keep them from experiencing great pain at the end of life.

Maine and New Jersey just passed such laws last year, Vermont did so in 2013, plus six other states and DC since Oregon in 1997. In all this time, there have been no proven cases of misuse or abuse of this law. The many safeguards written into these laws have worked as intended.

I believe we all want death to come easier, when possible, for ourselves and our loved ones. I know I want choices and options and loving support in every difficult and painful situation I may find myself in, and the end of life experience is no exception. It’s my body, my life, my informed decisions. I wish that for you as well.

While our Legislature must continue doing all it can for our communities to mitigate the serious impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, I hope they will also help to relieve the suffering of many of our terminally ill citizens by passing The End of Life Options Act (H.1926). We need to urge the Joint Committee on Public Health to act favorably on this bill before the May 30 deadline!

Reps. Mark and Blais, and Sen. Comerford are already co-sponsors of this bill, and should be asked to use their influence to move it along. Even more importantly, please contact people you know elsewhere in the state and ask them to contact their legislators as, well, time is short! We’re in a narrow window of opportunity for passage of this bill, and this is something we CAN do.

Joy Kaubin is a resident of Montague.


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