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BOSTON -- The widow of deceased U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, Victoria Reggie Kennedy wrote an editorial Oct. 27 in the Cape Cod Times endorsing a "no" vote on Question 2, the Nov. 6 ballot question proposing the legalization of physician assisted suicide for patients given a six-month-to-live diagnosis. The Boston Globe endorsed the same vote with an editorial the following week on Nov. 2.
Kennedy focused on the potential impact of the proposed law on families.
"Here's the truth. The language of the proposed law is not about bringing family together to make end of life decisions; it's intended to exclude family members from the actual decision-making process to guard against patients' being pressured to end their lives prematurely," she said.
She cited the circumstances of the late senator's diagnosis of two to four months to live -- and his accomplishments in the 15 months after that -- as evidence that doctors cannot accurately predict the end of life.
"Because that first dire prediction of life expectancy was wrong, I have 15 months of cherished memories -- memories of family dinners and songfests with our children and grandchildren; memories of laughter and, yes, tears; memories of life that neither I nor my husband would have traded for anything in the world," she said.
The Boston Globe focused on the possible impact on end-of-life healthcare in Massachusetts.
"Massachusetts, like most of the United States, has been in a woeful state of denial about the way its medical system handles the end of life. Too often, doctors shy away from frank discussions with terminally ill patients about their options -- from continuing treatment, to palliative care, to some combination of both," the newspaper said.
The editorial also noted opposition to the ballot question by Massachusetts Medical Society.
"Physician-assisted suicide should be the last option on the table, to be explored in a thorough legislative process only after the state guarantees that all its patients have access to all the alternatives, including palliative care," the editorial said.
Editor's note. Links to the articles:Victoria Kennedy's article and Boston Globe editorial