Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mayor, Full Council Oppose Assisted Suicide Question

The following was submitted by City Councilor Diane LeBlanc.
Mayor Jeannette McCarthy and the City’s 15 Councilors will be voting No on Question 2 and they are urging Waltham residents and residents across the state to do the same.  While it is not common for elected officials to speak out on ballot questions, they are making an exception because of the life and death issue at stake, and what they unanimously agree, are gross flaws in the proposed law.
The flaws causing concern for all are:  Patients are not REQUIRED to consult a psychiatrist or palliative care/hospice experts, or to notify family members, even though many terminally ill patients suffer from depression.  Further, there is no doctor present when the patient takes the lethal prescription.  Also of concern is the fact that most doctors agree that 6 months prognosis are often wrong.
Councilor at Large Diane LeBlanc, who encouraged her council colleagues to take a close look at this issue, said “this question has received almost no public debate which is very troubling.  It is important that those who have examined it closely, and see the very serious flaws and lack of protections, speak out.  If people take a hard look at this law – even those who support assisted suicide should vote no”.    
Mayor McCarthy said “the current law provides for health care proxies and hospice care.  The proposed law is flawed.  It does not provide for family or medical oversight at a most vulnerable time in a person’s life.”
Councillor Daniel P. Romard said “The flaws in the proposed law and underlying lack of safeguards, deems this choice inconceivable and a threat to human welfare.”
The Massachusetts Medical Society, Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts,  American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps,  and many other organizations are all urging a no vote. 
The Dean of the Council, Kathleen McMenimen commented, “My personal belief that suicide is against God’s law; the Natural Law and the laws of a moral civilization aside; when I read that the AMA and pharmacists across the Commonwealth are completely against this ballot question, I intend to vote “No” and urge others to vote “No” too.
Ward 2 Councillor Edmund P. Tarallo shared “one of my reasons that I do not support Question 2 is that it is not truly physician assisted. The law does not require the physician to recommend the prescription and the prescription in not administered by a physician; it is self-administered without a doctor or anyone else needing to be present.  
Ward 7 Councillor Joseph Giordano said “it is just wrong that a mental health evaluation is not required and that there is no requirement to let a family member know that you plan to take a lethal dose of medication that will kill you”.
LeBlanc urges voters not to be misled by the language of the ballot question which she contends has been masterfully crafted to confuse voters.  She said “we have a responsibility to ensure that all laws are just, and as written, this law is not just.  Please vote no on question 2.”
Joining with Mayor McCarthy urging a No Vote on Question 2, are Council President Robert J. Waddick, Council Vice President Kenneth B. Doucette, At Large Councillors Paul J. Brasco, Diane P. LeBlanc, Kathleen B. McMenimen, Thomas M. Stanley and Joeseph Vizard and Ward Councillors Daniel P. Romard, Edmund P. Tarallo, George A. Darcey III, Thomas J. Curtin, Gary J. Marchese, Joseph M. Giordano Jr., Stephen F. Rourke, and Robert G.  Logan.