Letter: Legislature should pass 'Death with Dignity' bill

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To the editor:

The Massachusetts Legislature once again has before it a bill that would make it possible for terminally ill patients to receive assistance in dying from their physicians to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. Sixty-six legislators are co-sponsors of "The End of Life Options Act," including Berkshire County's Sen. Adam Hinds and Reps. John Barrett, Paul Mark and William "Smitty" Pignatelli. I hope Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier will become a co-sponsor as well; I attended an illuminating meeting on this subject with her last November.

Seven states and Washington, D.C. already have "death with dignity" laws, with no indication that the laws' provisions have been in any way abused. And I have read that New Jersey and Maryland are close to passing ones, too. Massachusetts would be true to its tradition of being a leader in humane reforms if it extends this right to desperately ill patients seeking help from their physicians.

To learn more about this issue, I encourage Berkshirites to attend a public forum at the First Congregational Church in Great Barrington at 7 p.m. on April 15 called "Death with Dignity: Should Mass. Pass The End of Life Options Act?" Speakers will include Larry Pellish, a retired Pittsfield gastroenterologist, and John Berkowitz, the director of the Northampton-based group Western Mass. Death with Dignity.

Donald MacGillis

Pittsfield

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