The Legislature’s Joint Public Health Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday next week on the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act. The bill in essence would allow medical aid in dying, giving physicians the option of ending a patient’s life in the face of certain and difficult death.

Dr. Roger Kligler of Falmouth hopes citizens will pack the 600-seat auditorium in a strong show of support.

Death is a difficult subject for many; Dr. Kligler has been working hard over the last several years to bring the subject of physician-assisted death to the fore.

Dr. Kligler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002 and it has spread throughout his body. But it is not only himself he has in mind. In 2015 he addressed a general forum sponsored by Cape Cod Healthcare and spoke of the need for research and education about end of life care and when medical treatments should be stopped. “As a physician I have seen a lot of people go down the road too far,” he said.

In 2016 Compassion & Choices, a national organization based in Colorado, filed suit in Massachusetts Superior Court on behalf of Dr. Kligler and Dr. Alan Steinbach of Woods Hole to obtain an injunction protecting physicians from prosecution for assisted death.

Since then he has been talking with neighborhood groups, clubs, faith organizations—anywhere and anytime he can—about the need for the legislation that is finally making its way through the state Legislature.

There is ample precedent. California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all have authorized medical aid in dying. There is a good deal of support for it in Massachusetts.

Nevertheless, a strong showing of support on Beacon Hill next week will help.

It is not assisted suicide; it is compassionate care for patients who wish to die with grace and dignity.

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(4) comments


Correction your source has misled you. Doctor assisted suicide remains a homicide in Montana. No one has immunity from prosecution like in the states with Oregon death laws. What else did they not reveal? Consider that Yes 60% favor the concept but 95% reject legalizing euthanasia after they learn the extent of wrongful deaths allowed. Potential for abuse abounds with laws allowing euthanasia.. There are many documented cases of abuses in the Oregon model death laws. The problem cases only come to light through media and medical or legal journals, but many are in documents on the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund website. There is no oversight or assurance provided by the Oregon model death policy that can prevent wrongful deaths due to:  1. A wrong diagnosis. 2. A wrong prognosis. . 3. When unaware of available treatments. 4. When there is no access to pain management. 5. When denied funding for medical treatment. 6.When the mentally ill are at risk (a huge possibility). 7. When there is ableist judgement of “better off dead” which is a prevalent medical and social bias. 8. When there is undetected bullying or coercion. 9. When there is a killing after changing their mind or while resisting. This is likely in 20 percent of assisted suicides, according to an extrapolation from Oregon statistics. 10. When the social contagion of suicide is involved (likely in 5-12 percent of cases, as per the Centers for Disease Control).  11. When the death is not a rapid or peaceful death (likely 25-72 percent of the the time according to a study by Bill Gallerizzo). Expect expansion of categories due to “category creep” in this climate of promiscuous medical standards. Respectfully,, Care Giver


Assume I am expected to live for only a month. How does hastening my death for two weeks affect you? Answer: it doesn't. How you meet your end is your business. How I meet mine is none of yours.

Janet Simons Folger

Thank you for you thoughtful comment. Had my spouse been able to choose to die 7 days earlier than he did, he could have avoided a significant amount of the suffering that ravaged him.

Janet Simons Folger

You are just plain wrong Bradley - you have been misinformed. I have followed this issue for years and the records kept by Compassion and Choices are impeccable as well as those kept by state health regulators. These laws are about allowing qualifying individuals who are already dying, to end intolerable suffering. A peaceful death is something we all want. As my husband was suffering an excruciatingly painful death my 91 yo staunchly Catholic mother said, "the God I believe in would not want anyone to suffer in this way." Peace to you

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