Oct. 10 Public Health Forum, Thought-Provoking ‘Death with Dignity’ Ballot Initiative

in Uncategorized
October 9th, 2012

Marcia Angell

Marcia Angell

Marcia Angell, MD, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, is the featured speaker for the Wednesday, Oct. 10, Public Health Forum, which will take place from noon-1 p.m. in L-112, BUSM Instructional Building.

Her talk, “Respecting the Autonomy of Dying Patients: The Massachusetts Death with Dignity Ballot Initiative,” focuses on Question 2, the measure on the Nov. 6 state ballot that would allow terminally ill patients to request a physician-assisted death to relieve their suffering. The bill is modeled after a successful Oregon law that is credited with easing the passing of more than 500 terminally ill patients.

In a recent Boston Globe opinion article, Angell outlines some of the proposed law’s safeguards and notes, “This is not a matter of life versus death, but about the timing and manner of an inevitable death.” However, the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) opposes the initiative and has fought similar bills since 1999. Two weeks ago, MMS President Richard V. Aghababian, MD told a forum at the Lahey Clinic that, “Physician participation in assisted suicide is fundamentally at odds with our duty to be healers.”