Nadine Shank: Supports ‘End of Life Options Act’

  • mactrunk

Published: 9/13/2017 7:33:52 PM
Supports ‘End of Life Options Act’

My mom is 98 years old. She lives alone in independent living, senior housing. Albeit very slowly, she can perform the activities of daily living.

Gerri is a survivor of breast cancer and a stroke. She avidly follows world events on CNN and professional sports. Her warm smile and open manner brighten the days of those who visit her.

So what’s the problem? After a long life filled with service to others — she taught Grades 4 to 6 in the Akron public schools for 32 years — she is nagged by one unshakeable thought: that she may suffer a debilitating stroke or develop a terminal disease, which could result in a prolonged, agonizing death. She’s seen this scenario play out several times among her friends.

I think many of us share my mom’s fears. Currently, the Massachusetts Legislature is reviewing the “End of Life Options Act” (House Bill 1194). Passing this bill would allow each of our state’s citizens under the careful guidance of their personal physician the option of ending the pain and unnecessary suffering of a protracted dying process.

This choice, allowing someone to administer prescribed medicines to themselves so they could pass quickly, would never be imposed on anyone. The patient must be deemed mentally competent by his/her physician and must not be suffering from depression or inadequately treated pain. My mom, like many others, simply wants the choice of a humane death consistent with the dignity of the earlier chapters of her life.

If you live in Amherst or Northampton, and would like to add your name to a statement urging that the the Town Meeting of Amherst and the City Council of Northampton consider and pass a resolution supporting H1194, as other communities already have done, please contact me.

Nadine Shank


The writer is a member of the Pioneer Valley Death With Dignity action group and may be contacted at or 413-687-9037.

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