David Nielsen: Retired doctor backs End of Life Options Act

  • seb_ra

Published: 10/23/2017 7:57:09 PM
Retired doctor backs End of Life Options Act

As a retired emergency physician, I can personally attest to the anguish and unnecessary suffering of dying patients who are denied death with dignity.

I feel it only humane to maximize our options as we each traverse this final rite of passage. No one should be made to suffer needlessly, waiting for the merciful release of death.

Ending one’s life while facing a terminal illness would be strictly voluntary under proposed bills in the state Legislature. There is no slippery ethical slope — stringent guidelines in the End of Life Options Act (H. 1194) would have to be followed by the dying person and his physician alike, allowing someone to administer prescribed medicines only to themselves so that they could pass quickly.

This choice could never be imposed on anyone. The patient must be deemed mentally competent by a professional and must not be suffering from depression or inadequately treated pain.

Religious opposition should not enter into the discussion. Church and state are separate — we can’t force each other to adopt certain religious beliefs at any time during our lives, especially just before death. Rather, we should support increasing each other’s end of life options, regardless of our personal religious or philosophical views.

Thanks to the Gazette for its excellent coverage (“Retired doc advocates for end-of-life options,” Oct. 17) of the moving talk by Dr. Roger Kligler, who is terminally ill himself and who described his frustration for having failed some of his dying patients.

Hopefully, Amherst Town Meeting on Nov. 6 will follow Northampton’s lead and pass a resolution calling on both the Joint Public Health Committee and the full state legislature to pass H. 1194. If you agree and live in Amherst, please express your support to your Town Meeting representative.

Any Massachusetts resident is asked to contact the co-chairs of the Public Health Committee — Sen. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, (jason.lewis@masenate.gov) and Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, (kate.hogan@mahouse.gov) — and urge them and the entire committee to pass the bill.

Help bring Massachusetts into the 21st century by joining six other states and the District of Columbia, which already allow the option of a humane death for each of their citizens.

David Nielsen


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Northampton, MA 01061


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