'Death With Dignity' Should Become the National Norm
And it may, thanks to proposed Massachusetts act: Lewis Cohen
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2012 1:55 PM CDT
Lewis M. Cohen argues that we should become "pro-choice at the end of life."   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – “It is time we became pro-choice at the end of life,” writes Lewis M. Cohen, and Massachusetts’ Death With Dignity Act, poised to pass on Election Day, could finally make that happen. The ballot question, if approved, could “turn death with dignity from a legislative experiment into the new national norm,” Cohen writes in a moving Slate piece on the right-to-die movement. Because Massachusetts is home to the leading medical publication and hospital in the US—not to mention four prestigious medical schools—a death with dignity law there would be “a crucial milestone” for the movement; other states are already considering similar laws.

Cohen traces the right-to-die movement back to the 1980s, of course mentioning Dr. Jack Kevorkian, “the bad boy of medicine” who showed off his end-of-life technology on national television. But then Cohen turns his attention to Cody Curtis, who was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma in 2007, and Dr. Kate Morris, who helped her when she made the choice to end her life after the disease progressed. “Perhaps it takes the dramatic actions of a flawed advocate like Dr. Jack Kevorkian to catalyze change that leads to the appearance of more reasonable and likable physician reformers.” Curtis, Dr. Morris says, taught her physician that “‘first, do no harm’ is different for every patient.” Doctors like her, Cohen writes, realize the importance of “respect for patient autonomy” above all else. Click for his full piece.

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Showing 3 of 94 comments
Aug 20, 2014 7:21 AM CDT
And our pro-life health care system is humane? --they want all the elderly locked up in nursing homes and the Feds seize all life-long savings, property, and all other assets to pay for Medicaid--for very rotten crappy care.
Nov 4, 2012 11:02 PM CST
The New Normal strikes again.
Nov 2, 2012 3:43 PM CDT
What's remarkable about this article, and the discussion below, is that death with dignity has been law in Oregon for years, and working just fine, thank you very much.