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Leading Up to Election, Representative Kafka Endorses Death with Dignity Ballot Question

Stoughton Democrat Louis L. Kafka announces his support of Ballot Question 2, which would allow a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at a terminally ill patient’s request, to end that patient’s life.

Editor's Note: Massachusetts voters will be asked to vote for or against three ballot measures (questions) this election cycle. State Representative Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton) has announced support of Question 2: Prescribing Medication to End Life, a.k.a. "death with dignity."

This proposed law would allow a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at a terminally ill patient’s request, to end that patient’s life.

The following is a press release from the office of Rep. Kafka explaining his position. Read more about Question 2, including arguments for and against, by clicking here.

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Friday, State Representative Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton) announced that he supports Question 2 on the November ballot, Death with Dignity, leading up to the election. Rep. Kafka said that this law is about offering the terminally-ill choice and control.

“As the author of the original Death with Dignity legislation in the House, filed on behalf of my constituent and friend Al Lipkind, I believe that people with terminal conditions should have the right to choose when to end their suffering in a dignified manner,” said Kafka. “I hope that voters will take some time over the weekend to read the question itself; the ads on TV and radio are very misleading. I am voting Yes on 2.”

Death with Dignity would allow terminally-ill patients, with six months or less to live, the choice to end their suffering. This law will require two doctors to verify the patient’s diagnosis and that the patient is mentally competent to make the decision. Doctor participation is completely voluntary.

Representative Kafka also questioned the opposition’s concerns.

“The opposition wants to take us backward to when terminally-ill patients died in hospitals surrounded by machines and people in white coats, rather than surrounded by their loved ones,” said Rep. Kafka. “People should have the right to choice and control if the outcome is certain and they are suffering.”

The same law has been in place for a combined 22 years in other states. In each state only about 60 terminally ill patients decide to utilize the law each year and careful tracking of the law has found not a single instance of abuse over the past 15 years.

Fiscal Conservative November 03, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Does this include the pain and suffering from an overbearing govt that regulates and taxes beyond the people's means?
Snyder's Stoughton November 03, 2012 at 07:01 PM
On Question 2, I would agree with Rep. Kafka. Al Lipkind desperately wanted this passed. I will vote for it in his memory.
Rob2013 November 03, 2012 at 10:21 PM
This man says: "rather than surrounded by their loved ones" That's ironic, since question 2 does not require a husband, a wife or any family member be told a patient asked for assisted suicide OR that they received the lethal pills. Wow, that's really family-friendly!
Rob2013 November 03, 2012 at 10:22 PM
"The same law has been in place for a combined 22 years in other states" That means Oregon since the 90's and Washington state for a few years. What about the other 48? Answer: it's not legal there.
Todd Brown November 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Question 2 requires physicians to determine that a patient has 6 months or less to live. Most times this canot be determined with an aceptable degree of accuracy. As a pharmacist I am aware of many patients who were accepted into hospice care only to live for an addition number of years with good quality of life. Most medical societies have opposed this question and therefore there will be few or no physicians who participate. Personally I cannot see myself providing the medications that would be prescribed to patients to commit suicide. I know many of my colleagues feel the same way. A more detailed argument against question 2 can be found at stopassistedsuicide.org
Roseanne November 04, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I'm voting no.
DJ November 04, 2012 at 04:15 PM
"does not require" does not mean will not be surrounded by family. It simply means that the individual has the sole right to direct their life or death and that a family member can not interfere with that without invite as they can now. I presume the vast majority of individuals love their family and wish for their comfort. Question 2 is about an individuals right to choose, period. How can anyone have the audacity to claim they know what is best for another. Until you've walked in ones shoes..... Most people simply want to feel they have the control and choice if and when the time comes. I've known and lost too many friends and family, including the Al Lipkin, who wanted that control and still fought every day and every breath for life. I will be voting YES and pray it passes.
DJ November 04, 2012 at 04:42 PM
I'm grateful Rep Kafka honored Al Lipkin's work and desire to advance the "Death with Dignity" law. I am also dismayed and disappointed that Rep Kafka waited until the 11th hour to endorse the measure. Rep Kafka vowed to take up the issue as his own after Al Lipkin's death, yet he was absent the day of the public hearings. He never even advocated to the Judiciary committee claiming he wanted them to be swayed by testimony yet he didn't even testify citing being detained by a sinus infection. Less then a week prior to the referendum vote and now that the polls are showing a probable win, is when Lou Kafka comes forward to publically endorse and support Question 2? Mr. Kafka has shown little leadership or courage in the quest to pass this law and it is stunningly contrary to the drive, courage and passion of the man who devoted the end of his life to advancing the rights of others.
Rob2013 November 04, 2012 at 09:23 PM
DJ says: "How can anyone have the audacity to claim they know what is best for another. " Yes, sometimes I do. If someone is declared to have six months to live and because of this, they go into a state of depression which medication can bring them out of, I know that they should not be given death pills instead. This law does not require that such a person be reviewed by a mental heath professional. That is a flaw in it that I find totally unacceptable.
DJ November 04, 2012 at 11:50 PM
What is flawed is your faith that "mental health professionals" who've never met an individual, no better for what is best for that individual in an obviously scant amount of time for those (a tiny minority have you) to take their life. You either are not terribly familiar with the profession or know few in it as the honest ones will be the first to tell you they're not God. The fraction that might be in it due solely to depression will find a way to suicide. Your vote will negate those who are legit even in your eyes and cost the majority of the minority needless suffering. And you can sleep with with deciding that for a stranger? Arrogance is the only answer that comes to mind.
Rob2013 November 05, 2012 at 07:59 PM
DJ Studies have shown that 30% to 50% of those people diagnosed with terminal illnesses experience depression after the diagnosis. And, by the way, I sleep just fine knowing that some vulnerable person will not kill themselves because they are temporarily depressed.
DJ November 06, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Robert, of course there would be a significant percentage of people "found to be depressed" after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. I'm amazed it is as low as 30 to 50%. Being depressed does not equal being unable to make decisions for yourself. Question 2 dictates that treating physicians must direct patient to mental health care if they find or believe the patient is suffering from mental or emotional impairment altering their perspective. Why is that not satisfactory. We are holding the doctors who actually know the patients, accountable. Not some stranger that has no baseline on the patient. You may sleep fine, but I want no arrogant SOB's who don't even know me dictating my life and I'll bet if and when your in that position, you won't either.

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