Friday, June 7, 2024

Second Thoughts Massachusetts Protest Gains Important News Coverage

Second Thoughts Massachusetts led a peaceful counter demonstration at a gathering of assisted suicide proponents held at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, June 5th.

Seated: John Kelly, Randi Shea, Brian Shea. Standing: Chip Guiney, Glacier Gray, Ashlinn Parnell

In addition to those featured in the photo above, others who participated included Ian McIntosh and Jessica Rodgers of the Patients Rights Action Fund, Harry Weissman, Director of Advocacy for Disability Policy Consortium, as well as Gabriell Paye, Jon Ball, John Robinson and Dr. Rich Florentine.

The State House News Service (SHNS) provided unusually balanced coverage of the disability led demonstration against the assisted suicide bill currently before the Massachusetts legislature.

While it is all too common to see only a brief paragraph or sentence about opponents near the end of a lengthy article favoring physician assisted suicide laws, SHNS started with and frequently returned to Second Thoughts Massachusetts member Pamela Daly for her perspective. Below are some excellent excerpts from the article, Shifting views color Aid In Dying debate:

BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–When Pamela Daly first heard about the proposed legislation to give certain terminally ill patients the legal option to end their lives with a doctor’s prescription, she thought it was great that people could have a choice about how and when to die. …

But on Wednesday, … at the back of Nurses Hall, Daly and other advocates from Second Thoughts Massachusetts were holding signs and demonstrating against the controversial, long-discussed policy.

…Daly said she realized as she learned more about the proposal that it could be “extremely difficult and dangerous for many populations … just marginalized people in general.”

“They have a very simple argument, those people. Easy, who’s going to disagree with them? Who wants to suffer?,” she said after supporters talked about the pain of watching their loved ones suffer in their final days. “We have a much harder argument.”

The issue of physician-assisted death has lingered around Beacon Hill for years, with advocates claiming steps of progress as the Massachusetts Medical Society voted to drop its longstanding opposition and instead adopt a position of neutral engagement, and then as aid-in-dying legislation got a favorable report from the Public Health Committee after at least five straight sessions of being sent to study.

…But despite the talk of progress, … Daly and other opponents said they don’t sense the same kind of momentum for the legislation as supporters do. She said the feedback she hears from lawmakers suggests there is little appetite among elected officials to wade into the touchy topic.

“I don’t think it’s as close as they seem to think it is. There are a lot of politicians who don’t like to speak about this bill because it’s so controversial … and they feel that it’s such a big quagmire,” Daly said. She added, “It affects so many people in so many different ways.”

…Opponents like Daly contend that authorizing the policy could expose patients to coercion and abuse. Disability advocacy groups warn of a slippery slope — arguing that authorizing assisted death for terminally-ill patients is “just another incremental step to make non-terminal disabled people eligible for this as has happened in Canada and much of Europe,” John Kelly of Second Thoughts Massachusetts said.


Great work by Second Thoughts MA in ensuring that legitimate concerns about a public policy of assisted suicide were heard in the ongoing debate.