Why I'm Voting Yes on Question 2

I've had two pets that lived great lives. But every life comes to an end, and for my dog Buffy and cat Jerry the end started with horrible diseases that left them in a lot of pain with no hope of getting better. Though it was emotionally difficult I did the humane thing and had them put to sleep. I still miss them both.

One thing we all have in common is that we're going to die. Some of us will go quietly in our sleep, others will contract a disease that slowly eats our bodies. Me, I'm planning to go out in a freak Zeppelin accident, but if it doesn't work out that way, and I'm suffering with some horrible disease that's slowly taking my life, I want the choice to end things on my terms.

Now lets be real clear, I don't want to die anytime soon. My daughter is 5 and I'd like to be around to go geocaching with her kids. So I'm in this for the long haul. But lets say I come down with a disease that has me bedridden and in constant pain. Multiple doctors tell me I have 6 months to live and it's only going to get worse. At some point I should be allowed to say enough is enough.

As of today, the law in Massachusetts does not allow a terminally ill person in constant pain to end their life without starving themselves to death. So in my hypothetical situation, I am bound by law to be tortured every moment of every day until my body eventually gives out or I starve myself to death. Some have argued that starving yourself to death doesn't hurt, but I feel like crap when I miss lunch, so I'm not sure how that argument is supposed to hold up. But I digress...

It comes down to this: What kind of world do we live in where I can spare my pets from the torture of a slow and painful death and have it considered humane, but I can't do the same for myself?

We have a chance to fix this. Next Tuesday, in Massachusetts, a yes vote on Question 2 will give terminally ill people the ability to die with dignity on their own terms. Here's a quick overview on Question #2.

A "YES" vote on Question 2 will allow terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to request a prescription for life-ending medication from their doctor. The law has 16 different safeguards, including approvals from two doctors and waiting periods. Doctor participation is voluntary and no doctor would ever be forced to prescribe against their will.

Patients dying of late stage cancer, and other terminal illnesses, can face weeks or months of extreme pain and suffering before death. Question 2 allows these patients to face death on their own terms - often in their own homes - with the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones while they are still aware and competent.

Here's what's proposed in Massachusetts:

  • An adult patient who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and determined by two doctors to have six months or less to live is allowed the choice to use the Death with Dignity law.
  • The patient must voluntarily request his or her doctor write a prescription for life-ending medication. Doctor and healthcare provider participation is voluntary.
  • Two doctors must confirm the patient is mentally capable of communicating health care decisions and confirm the patient is making a voluntary, informed choice.
  • After the patient makes the request, there are required waiting periods before the writing of the prescription.

The same law has been in place for 15 years in Oregon and 4 years in Washington State. In each state only 60 terminally ill patients decide to utilize the law each year and careful tracking of the law has found not a single instance of abuse over the past 15 years.

I don't know how I'd sleep at night if I didn't get my butt out and vote yes on Question #2. To do anything else feels like advocating for the torture of terminally ill people.  Even so, there are people very aggressively advocating against Question #2. I've gone through every one of their objections and haven't found a single one that was both true, and gave me the slightest bit of pause.

I'm voting for choice, control and dignity. I'm voting yes on Question 2.

I encourage you to take a look at Question #2 and if you have any concerns about voting yes I'd be happy to discuss them with you. Here's a few resources to get you up to speed.
  1. The Facts on Question #2 
  2. Official MA website for Question #2
  3. Death with Dignity: Why I Don’t Want to Have to Starve Myself to Death - By JOHN M. GROHOL, PSYD