BOSTON – The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide today announced that Rosanne Bacon Meade, former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and progressive activist, would chair its efforts to defeat the ballot initiative legalizing assisted suicide in the Commonwealth. The initiative petition will appear on the November Massachusetts ballot (Question 2). If approved, it would become law on January 1, 2013.
“Given my personal involvement in end-of-life care for both my mother and mother in-law, I am honored to lead the effort to defeat Question 2,” said Meade. “No matter your philosophical views on end of life decision-making, this initiative petition is poorly written, confusing, and flawed. With Massachusetts as the center of modern medical advances and treatment for those who are seriously ill, we can do better than pass a ballot question that would take us backward, not forward, in how we deal with end-of-life treatments.”
Meade said the Committee, which has already attracted the support of doctors, nurses, hospice workers, and religious leaders, will launch a vigorous campaign to defeat the measure.
“This ballot question allows a patient to obtain a lethal prescription without a mental health evaluation, without a consultation with a palliative care expert, and without family involvement,” said Meade. “A person could act on their own at a terribly vulnerable moment, without the help and support they need.”
“An initiative petition is the worst possible way to decide end-of- life treatment options,” Meade said. “But, the proponents put this issue on the ballot instead of asking the legislature to bring healthcare experts together to thoughtfully advise state policy makers. We will do whatever we can to help voters understand the ballot questions shortcomings and lack of effective safeguards.”
Many of the leading local and national health organizations, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians oppose physician assisted suicide.
“Patients don’t need to commit suicide to achieve peace and dignity,” said Dr. Alexandra Cist, a physician and clinical ethics consultant at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School faculty member. “Instead, they need better advance care planning and increased early entry into palliative care and hospice so a patient can benefit profoundly from the right treatment and support.”
The Vote No on Question 2 Coalition already includes doctors, nurses, members of the disability community and religious leaders from all faiths.
“Jewish leaders, ethicists, and rabbis have advocated on behalf of ever more effective palliative care because they recognize the ethical and practical dangers of permitting assisted suicide,” said Rabbi David Meyer of Marblehead.
Meade said the coalition plans to continue expanding its membership and its fundraising base in the next several weeks.
“I am struck by how many people have no idea this question is on the ballot,” she noted. “We need to make people aware that Question 2 is seriously flawed and deserves a no vote on November 6th.”
In addition to serving as MTA president, Meade was also a member of the National Education Association’s executive committee. Over a 38-year career, Meade taught middle school English. She also ran the Teach Boston Program in the Boston Public Schools and taught in the Graduate School of Education at Cambridge College. In addition to her role as educator, she has helped spearhead a number of progressive causes in Massachusetts over the past three decades.
To find out more, please visit www.stopassistedsuicide.org. On social media, also visit http://www.facebook.com/StopPhysicianAssistedSuicide on Facebook or @stopasstsuicide on Twitter.