State Rep. Ed Coppinger said he is opposed to Massachusetts ballot Question 2, which if passed would legalize physician-assisted suicide in the Commonwealth on January 1, 2013.
Coppinger said Question 2 is deeply flawed and lacks critical safeguards for protecting patients.
“The ballot question does not require patients who want a lethal prescription to receive a mental health evaluation first. We know from the data that many terminal patients are clinically depressed,” said Coppinger via press release.
Coppinger said he specifically wanted to offer his opinion on Question 2 (as there are three state ballot questions), "I think people believe it is an assisted suicide question but my concern here is that no doctor is present - the patient is sent home with narcotics."
Among Coppinger's concerns with Question 2:
- Patients with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live could choose to end their lives, even though most doctors admit they cannot accurately predict life expectancy.
- Patients could choose to end their lives without ever talking to a spouse or family member.
- Patients could obtain a lethal prescription without talking to hospice and palliative care professionals, who are trained to help people with ongoing diseases (some terminal, some not) to manage their symptoms and minimize pain.
- A physician would not be required to be present when a patient takes the pill, leaving him or her vulnerable to complications and injury not resulting in death.
- The lethal prescription would be dispensed at a local pharmacy and public health official would have no system for tracking the lethal dose.
Coppinger said he supported the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians, which criticized using the ballot question for such a nuanced and complex area of medicine as a “disservice to the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
What do you think of Question 2? How will you be voting on it?