Tomorrow Massachusetts Considers Death with Dignity Bill.
Massachusetts could become the fourth state to legalize elective human euthanasia for the terminally ill under a proposed bill whose author succumbed to the ravages of cancer before he could make his case to the Legislature.
“He fought this battle (with cancer) for five solid years. But at the end, you don’t want to be in pain. You don’t want your family to see you in pain. He thought this would be the best way,” said Eileen Lipkind, whose husband of 38 years, Albert Lipkind, 62, of Stoughton, died four months ago today from colon cancer that had spread to his liver.
At the State House tomorrow afternoon, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will begin debating whether to follow the leads of Oregon, Washington state and Montana and implement a so-called Death With Dignity law. It would allow Bay State residents for whom time and luck is running out to choose to end their suffering by ingesting a prescribed medical cocktail.
In Oregon, 401 terminally ill patients have chosen to die on their terms since 1997, according to the Death With Dignity National Center.
Professor Paul Spiers of Danvers, who teaches forensic neuropsychology at Boston University, became an advocate of the right-to-die movement after a 1994 horseback riding accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.
“It becomes important when you’re looking at life in a wheelchair, but it’s the one choice we don’t have,” Spiers said. “We’re kinder to our pets than we are to people. You should be able to die peacefully in the company of your family and friends.”
Albert Lipkind, a grandfather and computer technician for Hewlett Packard, proposed that anyone 18 or older, who had been diagnosed by an attending physician as terminally ill, could request of that doctor - both orally and in writing - a lethal dose of medicine to take on their own. No one else could make the choice for the patient.
Though she would have supported his decision to die, Eileen Lipkind, a registered nurse, said her husband “wanted to live.”
“I don’t think it’s playing God at the end. God has already decided you have a terminal illness,” she said. “I believe in living and trying to care for somebody, but if there is no cure and there is no other way, I think somebody should have that choice. It should be a personal decision.”