References to physician-assisted suicide must include its problems

Alex Schadenberg

Editor’s note. This appears on the blog of Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.


A person named Robert Joyce from Newton Massachusetts wrote a great letter to the editor that was published in the Boston Globe Monday.

I was disappointed with the Associated Press article about the Oregon doctor who died by assisted suicide (“Dr. Peter Goodwin, 83; championed law allowing ‘Death With Dignity’ in Oregon,’’ Obituaries, March 13). By citing only advocates for physician-assisted suicide, and mentioning nothing about problems associated with the practice, the article presented anything but a balanced view.

The physician-assisted suicide bills and initiative petition pending in Massachusetts fail to require that lethal drugs be administered by disinterested people. They also deceptively lower the legal standard of care required of physicians and hospitals. These facts increase the risk of elder abuse, and unreasonably require a high level of trust from vulnerable patients.

I am a lawyer with front-line experience. I have had to obtain a temporary restraining order against a Boston hospital after its personnel had decided, against the will of an elderly patient, to deny him life-saving dialysis treatment. His quality of life, in their opinion, led them to determine that death rather than ongoing care would be his fate.

How much do you trust insurers, hospitals, and governments? Unless you answer, “With my life,’’ you should oppose the Massachusetts assisted-suicide efforts.

Robert W. Joyce