Dying With Dignity Legislation Update

Dying With Dignity Legislation Update

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Over the past months, I have written to you about the importance of advance healthcare directives and end-of-life care planning. These critical conversations with our loved ones about our beliefs and values related to the final days of our lives provide peace of mind when they are asked to make difficult decisions in a medical crisis. While some victims of Covid-19 may have had these conversations, and prepared their healthcare directives, many had not.  Despite one's wishes and plans, COVID-19 has altered the end-of-life care wishes for many people who died alone in ICU beds instead of with their loved ones at their sides. The death toll alone has elevated awareness of the conversations we should all have related to values and death with dignity.
 
Many people live with debilitating painful medical conditions that slowly lead to death. It is in these circumstances that some believe they should be able to receive compassionate aid in dying.
 
As I stated in July 2020, supporting legislation such as this requires reflection on our beliefs and values on the topic of death with dignity, with our spiritual and religious values guiding our decisions. We can find thoughtful discussion from UCC: Faithfully Facing Dying and the General Synod 26 (2007) resolution LEGALIZATION OF PHYSICIAN AID IN DYING 1 (Resolution of Witness) which proclaims “From the beginning of our lives to life everlasting, God leads us, sustains us, and is always with us" - Psalm 139: 7-12.

Regardless of your position on the Death with Dignity legislation, I encourage you to think about what is most important to you if life, and near death. Talk with your loved ones about how you would want to live until the end of your life and complete your Advance Healthcare Directive.
 
The statewide organization Western Mass. Death with Dignity asked us to share the following message with you:
If you agree that Massachusetts should become the 10th state (Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, California, etc.) plus Washington DC to legalize the option of medical, compassionate aid in dying for people who are terminally ill, mentally capable of making their own end-of-life health care decisions, and facing severe pain and suffering . . .
Please contact your legislators and urge them to support passage of The End of Life Options Act (House #4782, Senate #2745) first by the Health Care Finance Committee in November (it was already passed in May by the Public Health Committee), then by the full Legislature in December. Thank them for all they're doing to provide our communities with medical and economic relief from the Covid19 crisis. Tell them this bill would also offer relief from the severe pain and suffering experienced by many terminally ill people, and the option of a peaceful death at home with loved ones rather than potentially alone in a hospital.
 
And forward this request to family and friends around the state, urging them to do the same.
More info:  www.westernmassachusettsdeathwithdignity.org

Author

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Deborah Ringen

Deborah Ringen is Transitional Minister of Health and Wellness for the Southern New England Conference, UCC.

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