Linda Matson: Clock ticking on ‘Death with Dignity’ bill

Published: 5/22/2020 4:00:17 PM
Modified: 5/22/2020 4:00:04 PM

COVID-19 has dominated our thoughts and the news. Many people are struggling; health care workers, store personnel, post office workers, truckers, are doing yeoman’s work so we can stay safe at home. Nevertheless, things are moving on, on other fronts, without our notice.

Massachusetts is a progressive state in so many ways, but in some ways so backward. Once again the “Death with Dignity” law modeled on the Oregon statute is sitting in the Joint Public Health Committee. Once again it may die there, the deadline for a vote or extension is May 30.

I agree with Elizabeth Bristow’s letter of May 4, and want to add my voice to the call to make our state the 10th one to pass a Death with Dignity law. Maine and New Jersey did so last year; Vermont seven years ago, and the others over the past 23 years.

I applaud our local legislators, and the whole Legislature, for doing all they can to provide medical and economic relief for our communities caused by this COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, people are still suffering and dying of other illnesses that are definitely terminal.

In spite of the great work of hospice and palliative care, all too many such terminally ill people still face intolerable pain at the end of life, or mental incapacity if they wish reduced pain. If someone is mentally capable and able to make their own health care decisions, they deserve the option of medical, compassionate aid in dying.

Please join me by contacting your legislators and urging them to support passage of The End of Life Options Act (H.1926) by the Joint Committee on Public Health before its May 30 deadline. Then contact anyone you know elsewhere in the state, and urge them to contact their legislators, too.

Linda Matson


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