The Daily Hampshire Gazette Guest columnists Alberto Gambarini, Jerome Medalie and Stanley Handman: “Elders support death with dignity,” May 29, 2020
“We know full well that our lawmakers need to do all they can to ease the medical and economic pain of the COVID-19 crisis for our citizens. But we believe they could also provide relief from suffering for many people who are terminally ill with other diseases, like cancer, and are facing extreme pain at the end of their life. These two priorities are not mutually exclusive …
“We’re grateful for the gift of our very long and satisfying lives, but we don’t want our ending to be filled with such suffering, frustration and loss of dignity. That’s why we attended the public hearing on the bill [End of Life Options Act], held last June at the Statehouse by the Joint Committee on Public Health, and offered our testimony, along with many others …
“We urge readers to contact your state legislators...and ask them to support H.1926 and S.1208 [End of Life Options Act] by passing it...in the  session.”
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Editorial: Time to act on ‘death with dignity’ bill,” May 28, 2020
“For some, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought end-of-life issues into renewed focus, as more than 6,500 lives have been lost statewide to the virus. As we’ve editorialized on these pages several times over the years, the time to pass this bill [the End of Life Options Act (H.1926/S.1208)] is overdue …
Lawmakers must advance it.”
The Berkshire Eagle editorial, “Our Opinion: Time has come for End of Life Options Act,” May 21, 2020
“…with COVID-19, which has claimed more than 6,000 lives around the state, prompting a renewed focus on end-of-life issues, we believe that this will be the time the legislation [End of Life Options Act (H.1926/S.1208)] becomes law …
“Medical science can do amazing things, but in enabling people with terminal illnesses to live longer the result can be prolonged suffering that patients should have the right to bring to an end.
“The legislation is currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health with a May 30 deadline for action. We urge the committee to approve it and put it before members for a vote. Ideally, before the end of the year, the bill will be passed and signed into law by the governor.”
“Nine states and Washington, D.C., have passed these [medical aid-in-dying] laws already. There are significant safeguards built into the law [End of Life Options Act]. In states where medical aid in dying is authorized, ‘studies show that end-of-life care improves overall.’
“No one wants to die, but we will someday. If I am terminal, I want no part of pain, the ICU, tubes, noise and commotion. I want a peaceful death at home.
Join me in urging your Senator or Representative to...support its passage. This is not about Democrats or Republicans. This is about your decision, respecting your end-of-life wishes. Be empowered.”
The Salem News letter to the editor by Marblehead resident Betty Breuhaus, “Pass 'death with dignity' bill,” Jan. 29, 2020
Maine, Vermont, New Jersey and six other states, plus Washington D.C., have already passed a death with dignity law over the past 22 years. And there are enough safeguards in all these laws so that there has not been one substantiated case of abuse or coercion toward an elder, disabled, or low-income person. I think it’s time for Massachusetts to do the same.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette op-ed by Woods Hole resident Alan Steinbach, PhD, MD, “As I See It: Voters Support End of Life Options Act,” Aug. 9, 2019
“The Massachusetts End of Life Options Act contains the same safeguards against abuse and coercion shown to be effective by more than 40 years of combined experience in 10 jurisdictions where medical aid in dying is already authorized, starting with Oregon in 1997. Over the decades, there has not been a single proven case of abuse or coercion related to medical aid in dying. Not one...
“Death is extremely personal. We are all entitled to decline medical treatment, based on our values and priorities. Terminally ill individuals should also have the additional option of avoiding the agonizing end stages of disease based on their individual values and beliefs.”
Worcester Telegram & Gazette op-ed by Gilbertville resident and retired registered nurse Peggy AM Bacon, “As I See It: Massachusetts ready to legalize End of Life Options Act,” Aug. 9, 2019
“Today, you and I can make many choices about our health. Do we exercise, eat healthy, brush our teeth, go to the doctor, take our medications as prescribed? Should we be diagnosed with a terminal disease, we make more choices. Perhaps where to get our care, which specialist to see, what treatments to pursue, and at some time some of us will say, it’s time to stop — no more interventions, no more medications. This is our right and our choice...
“This act is not about what is right or wrong for the individual. This act is about choices. This act says, I as a competent adult with a terminal illness and have the right to choose how, when and where I die, with a little help from my friends.”
Jewish Journal letter to the editor by Rabbi Elias Lieberman of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, East Falmouth,
“Letter: Why I support the Massachusetts End Of Life Options Act,” June 27, 2019
“As a person of faith who chose a profession in which I am expected to offer guidance to those facing the ultimate existential questions, I believe firmly that terminally ill, mentally capable adults should have the option to die peacefully if their suffering renders living intolerable.”
“I do not presume to speak for all Jews. But I feel strongly that anyone’s deeply-held religious convictions should not preclude the exercise of the most fundamental of personal decisions by others.”
“I do offer experience gained ministering to the dying and to their loved ones. I’m urging legislators to grant the precious gift of autonomy to those for whom the personal decision to end unendurable suffering at the end of their life would be the greatest of blessings.”
Falmouth Enterprise/CapeNews.net editorial, “Compassionate End Of Life Care,” June 21, 2019
“There is ample precedent. California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all have authorized medical aid in dying. There is a good deal of support for it in Massachusetts...
“It is not assisted suicide; it is compassionate care for patients who wish to die with grace and dignity.”
Berkshire Eagle editorial, “Our Opinion: End of Life Options Act merits a vote in favor,” Jan. 11, 2019
“Medical assistance in dying legislation has stalled in five consecutive legislative sessions (a session lasts two years) and was narrowly defeated in a 2012 ballot initiative. However, a significant change in the issue's dynamic came two years ago when the Massachusetts Medical Society, which had long opposed medically assisted death and was a fierce opponent of the ballot measure, officially switched its position on the issue to neutral. An internal poll of MMS members found that 60 percent of respondents now favor allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients who seek it, and 41 percent wanted the group to actively support an assisted suicide bill in the Legislature...
“The Berkshire Eagle has supported these legislative efforts over the years, as well as the ballot question, and supports this effort as well. We urge the Legislature to move the End of Life Options Act out of the Joint Committee on Public Health in the weeks ahead and put to a vote. Ideally, it will be passed into law and sent to the desk of Gov. Baker for his signature.”
STAT News column by Falmouth resident, retired internist and terminally ill Compassion & Choices volunteer advocate Roger Kligler, MD, “I’m a doctor with end-stage cancer. I support medical aid in dying,” Jan. 31, 2018
“When I was in my 40s, I watched my mother and my father-in-law suffer agonizing deaths from cancer. I remember thinking, ‘That’s not the way I want to die.’ As an internist, I have treated patients in the office and the hospital, including intensive care units. I took over the primary care of patients who were terminally ill when specialists were no longer able to help them. I passionately believed that my professional responsibilities included caring for my patients at the ends of their lives...
“While nine constituent societies of the American Medical Association — eight states and the District of Columbia — previously had changed their position from opposition to neutral on medical aid in dying, I am proud to say the Massachusetts Medical Society is the first one to adopt a policy of neutral engagement.
I believe that the time is coming when all terminally ill people be able to get the help they deserve when they ask their physicians to be able to die to end intolerable suffering.”
Berkshire Eagle editorial, “Our Opinion: MMS takes key step on death with dignity,” Dec. 4, 2017
“...After years and many attempts to pass such a law, and with various interested parties arguing against its passage on moral and religious grounds, a legislative committee once again has the matter under consideration. This time, however, the powerful Massachusetts Medical Society, which has traditionally thrown its weight against an assisted suicide bill, has opted to take a neutral stance…
“End-of-life decisions should be made by the individual, who should have the right to seek assistance from physicians willing to do so ethically and by following proper safeguards. Let us hope that this commendable move by the MMS hastens the arrival of the day when those rights are guaranteed in Massachusetts.”
Daily Hampshire Gazette editorial, “Editorial: Time for End of Life Options Act in Massachusetts,” Feb. 29, 2017
“The bill in the Massachusetts Legislature, modeled on an Oregon law, would establish specific steps a patient must take before being prescribed lethal medication. They include medical certification of a terminal illness expected to cause death within six months, written and oral requests for the medication that must be approved by two doctors, as well as a psychological examination to determine if the patient is of sound mind. After a 15-day waiting period, the patient would be given the drugs. When — and if — the medication is used is up to the patient…
“The Northampton City Council and Amherst Town Meeting in November each endorsed the End of Life Options Act, urging the Legislature to approve it. Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne LaBarge, a co-sponsor of the resolution in Northampton, described a history of deadly cancer in her family, and how difficult it was to watch both her parents suffer before they died.
“She said of her father, ‘If he had the opportunity today to say, “I want to end my life,” and not to have to continue with the unbearable suffering he went through, he would have agreed to take dying medication.
“‘I do feel strongly that how we die should be a personal, individual choice.’
“We agree. It is time for Massachusetts to ease that decision-making process — for terminally ill patients and their doctors — by adding to their legal, end-of-life options.”
Boston Magazine article by Falmouth resident, retired internist and terminally ill Compassion & Choices volunteer advocate Roger Kligler, MD, “The Death I Want,” Jan. 15, 2017
“I don’t know when death will arrive. It could be a few months or a few years. In all honesty, that part doesn’t really scare me anymore, and I don’t devote much time or energy dwelling on it. What does scare me, however, is the strong likelihood that I will spend my last days on Earth unable to do the normal things that make life enjoyable, losing my autonomy and dignity, being barely alive yet in severe pain, drifting in and out of a morphine-induced haze while my loved ones take shifts on a deathwatch. That is not how I want to die. Would you?...
“Time is not on my side. Terminally ill people like me cannot wait several more years and hope that this end-of-life care issue lands on a ballot and passes, nor can we wait for the legislature to act. I want this option to be clearly authorized in Massachusetts in my lifetime—for me, for you, for everyone...
“These terminally ill people did not want to die. Like me, they would have given anything to live. They just wanted the option of a graceful exit. We should all have that same right.”