NRL News

Massachusetts assisted suicide bill permits euthanasia

by | Mar 10, 2020

Editor’s note. This is the article, written by Ronald W. Pies, MD, and Alex Schadenberg that the Boston Globe refused to print. Instead it was published by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

As advocates for people at the most vulnerable time of their life, we are deeply troubled by two so-called “aid in dying” bills, now before the Massachusetts legislature [1]. 

Currently the two bills (S.1208 and H. 1926) would open the door not only to physician-assisted suicide (PAS), but also to euthanasia—sometimes called “mercy killing.” Unlike PAS, which involves a person self-administering a lethal, prescribed “drug cocktail,” euthanasia involves another person’s administering the lethal drugs. 

Both bills state that “A terminally ill patient may voluntarily make an oral request for aid in dying and a prescription for medication that the patient can choose to self-administer…”. However, “self-administer” is defined as “a qualified patient’s act of ingesting” the lethal medication. This definition does not prevent another person from administering the lethal dose that the person then “ingests.” 

Moreover, the bills require no medical oversight of the “act of ingesting,” which may be subject to family pressures; and which sometimes results in prolonged death (24 hours or more), nausea, vomiting, gasping, and awakening from unconsciousness.[2] 

Neither PAS nor euthanasia is permitted under Massachusetts current statute Ch. 201D §12). [3] In January, the Suffolk Superior Court ruled that the Commonwealth’s laws and constitution do not guarantee a right to physician-assisted suicide, and PAS was rejected in a 2012 state referendum. The legislature should now reject these two dangerous bills.

Ronald W. Pies, MD, is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine. 

Categories: Assisted Suicide