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The Berkshire Eagle: Letter: End of Life Act provides needed options

An excerpt from The Berkshire Eagle letter to the editor, “End of Life Act provides needed options,” by Williamstown residents Kathy McKnight and David Rempell, published June 25, 2020:


“The End of Life Options Act was passed by the state Joint Committee on Public Health on May 29. The bill now moves forward in the legislative process before reaching the House and Senate for a vote, hopefully before the end of the 2019-2020 session. This was a major triumph considering the COVID-19 crisis, the current civil unrest, and the subsequent serious disruption to the legislative process.

This bill gives “‘terminally ill but mentally competent adult MA residents the voluntary option to request, obtain, and take medication to end their life in a peaceful, humane, and dignified manner at a time and place of their choosing.’ It includes one additional requirement not found in similar bills approved in nine other states. The bill requires written confirmation by a mental health professional that the patient is not experiencing a psychological, psychiatric, or depressive condition that would impact judgment. This is in response to concerns expressed during the 10 years that the bill has been held in committee.

Americans are not good at talking about death. But we need to be prepared for when, not if, a serious illness will strike. COVID-19 has proved how suddenly end-of-life decisions can be thrust upon us. Hopefully, it has prompted many to consider their dying wishes and determine if their advance directives (living will and health care proxy designation) are in order. Or if these have even been considered!…

…The important word in this bill is OPTIONS. People need to know what all their options are and they should not have to relocate to another state to avail themselves of those options. Hopefully, this bill will be passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. Then terminally-ill residents will have another option to make the best decision for themselves. This is not a matter of life or death, but the timing and manner of an inevitable death…

It is time to pass this medical aid-in-dying bill. Reach out to your family and friends in other parts of the state and ask them to contact their representatives and encourage passage of The End of Life Options Act.”