Massachusetts 2012 Ballot

July 23, 2012 in lifestyle, News

Two of three measures on the Massachusetts statewide ballot for 2012 relate to healthcare.

One is the Medical Marijuana Initiative and the other is the Death with Dignity initiative.  http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Massachusetts_2012_ballot_measures

On the face of it, I favor both for the reason of allowing people to control their own destinies when possible and when others are not being harmed.  In other words, In these cases, I support the Platinum Rule over the Golden Rule.  (For comparison, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule or search online for Platinum Rule.)

4 responses to Massachusetts 2012 Ballot

  1. Hmmm Lee – very interesting distinction between the rules! Could have widespread implications!!

  2. I’m very worried about the Death with Dignity act. I’m concerned that people will be pressured to ‘avoid being a burden on the family’ or that they’ll take their own lives to avoid not unbearable pain, but simply the uncertainty of the natural dying process. When I took care of my father through his cancer and eventual death in his own home, I was shocked to find how much pressure can be put on a caregiver — by healthcare professionals and by other family members with their own agendas — to put the ill person in a nursing home rather than provide hands-on care yourself, to “stop being selfish and let him go” even when you’re expressly carrying out the wishes of the terminally ill person by choosing modest, reasonable life-extending treatments, and so forth. Other friends of mine have had similar experiences: health care professionals seemingly advocating “acceptance of death” *not* in situations where the patient’s family wanted heroic, futile and expensive treatments, but in situations in which the patient *and* the family chose simple measures such as antibiotics or IV hydration. Truly, as much as I was helping my father battle cancer, I felt that I was battling pressure from family and the medical profession as well, and I have heard similar stories from friends. I shudder to think what kind of pressure some patients and caregivers would feel if we created a society in which taking a handful of pills is seen as the normal alternative to “burdening the family,” “hanging on too long,” etc. I don’t know how many terminally ill people would find the strength to hang onto life as long as they would naturally choose, in the face of those kinds of pressures.

    • Care for the dying person is a difficult subject. Toward the end of life, both my parents had expressed verbally and in writing that they wanted no medical measures taken that would lengthen their time of final illness. I honored their wishes as did the doctors involved, and no heroic interventions took place and no life-prolonging pills were given.

      Unfortunately, we can not help but be exposed to bad advice from others who are projecting from their situation onto ours or who are self-serving. My opinion is that the inner strength to recognize and resist bad advice is most important in all circumstances, including the stressful time of an impending death in the family.

      As we all know, final illnesses are not always kind to people, and it is uncaring to impose unwanted restrictions against the wishes of those who are in their final life suffering. I see the Death with Dignity initiative as providing a correction to government/legal restrictions that can sometimes be misguided and indifferent when applied to real people in real situations.

  3. The 2012 ballot measure #2 “Death with Dignity” lost by a vote of 51% to 49%. The barrage of ads on TV opposing the initiative was huge, so that may have been one factor.

    Frontline had a special on assisted suicide Nov 13.
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/11/the-suicide-plan-frontline-explores-organized-world-of-assisted-suicide.html. Presently, only the states of Washington and Oregon have legal doctor assisted suicide. More background information is available at: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Massachusetts_%22Death_with_Dignity%22_Initiative,_Question_2_(2012).

    I believe it is clear that the manner in which care is provided to the terminally ill remains a grey area, with or without doctor assisted suicides. On balance, however, the terminally ill person may expect to lose control not only of their own dying and their misery or lack thereof, but also their life savings. Also to some extent insurance companies would seem to lose control of their costs for terminal medical care, rightly or wrongly.

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