“What I’ve encouraged is that in order to create this kind of death with dignity, that we . . . continue to inform people about the palliative care available, the hospice care,” he said. “There’s been tremendous strides in the last decade with how the pain of the terminally ill is able to be managed.”
State Senator Patricia Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, said she is a strong supporter of hospice and palliative care, citing legislation she helped pass that extends hospice care to all Medicaid patients.
But Jehlen supports the ballot question because “I know with palliative care there are limits with some people. Pain cannot always be controlled without losing clarity and consciousness. I think some people want to have the ability to make those choices.”
Her late father, Paul Deats, who was a professor of social ethics at Boston University’s School of Theology and a Methodist minister, studied the issue of physician-assisted suicide with other theologians. Jehlen believes he would have supported the ballot question.
“He certainly would not have said he would advise anyone to do it,” she said, “but he would have wanted them to have the choice.”
John Laidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.