Kennedy widow opposes Massachusetts Physician-Assisted Suicide proposal

By Dave Andrusko

Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Add the voice of Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, to the growing list of opponents of Ballot Question 2 which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts.

Earlier today NRL News Today wrote about “The appeal of physician-assisted suicide is based on a fantasy,” based on the opposition expressed by prominent bioethicist Ezekiel J. Emanuel in a piece he wrote over the weekend for the New York Times.

The coalition opposing Ballot Question 2 is massive. It includes the disability rights community, many major medical organizations, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, much of the religious community, and many state legislators. In addition, seven major newspapers in the state have editorialized against Ballot Question 2.

Mrs. Kennedy’s op-ed appeared in the Cape Cod Times on Saturday. Like Emanuel, she debunked various myths but in a much more personal way. For example, she wrote

“Here’s the truth. The language of the proposed law is not about bringing family together to make end of life decisions; it’s intended to exclude family members from the actual decision-making process to guard against patients’ being pressured to end their lives prematurely. It’s not about doctors administering drugs such as morphine to ease patients’ suffering; it’s about the oral ingestion of up to 100 capsules without requirement or expectation that a doctor be present.”

Later, she addressed the “criteria”:

“Question 2 is supposed to apply to those with a life expectancy of six months or less. But even doctors admit that’s unknowable. When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he had only two to four months to live, that he’d never go back to the U.S. Senate, that he should get his affairs in order, kiss his wife, love his family and get ready to die. But that prognosis was wrong. Teddy lived 15 more productive months.”

Mrs. Kennedy’s ending was powerfully brilliant:

“My husband used to paraphrase H.L. Mencken: for every complex problem, there’s a simple easy answer. And it’s wrong.

“That’s how I feel in this case. And that’s why I’m going to vote no on Question 2.”