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Easing way to suicide does not qualify as compassion

It’s disingenuous for proponents of Question 2 to argue that the primary reason people choose physician-assisted suicide is to eliminate physical suffering. Statistics from the three states that allow physician-assisted suicide don’t support that theory. For example, in Oregon loss of autonomy and the decreased ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable were among the most commonly reported reasons patients gave for requesting physician-assisted suicide.

I applaud people for promoting compassion, but true compassion means alleviating suffering while maintaining solidarity with those who suffer. It does not mean putting lethal drugs in the hands of depressed people and abandoning them to suicide.

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Advances in palliative care make it possible to treat pain and give dying patients a choice other than killing themselves. Laws that allow physician-assisted suicide undermine a health care provider’s ability and willingness to provide such care.

As home to some of the greatest medical facilities in the world, the state of Massachusetts should focus on eliminating suffering, not eliminating the sufferer.

Mark O’Neill

Springfield, Va.

The writer is a member of Catholic Voices USA.

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