“DEATH WITH DIGNITY”: What About YOUR Grandparents?

Judy Flynn

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Judith M. Flynn is an Elder Law attorney and an OfficeSolutionsPlusLLC.com client from Rockland who practices solely in the areas of Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Special Needs Planning.  She is President-Elect of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and a member of their Public Policy Committee, advocating for seniors and people with special needs.

Judith agreed to talk with OfficeSolutionsPlusLLC.com about the Massachusetts defeated “DEATH WITH DIGNITY ACT.”

OFFICE SOLUTIONS PLUS LLC:  Recently the “Death with Dignity Act” was narrowly defeated in Massachusetts.  What is your opinion on why it did not pass?

FLYNN:  As an Elder Law Attorney, I am concerned about the potential for abuse of seniors and people with special needs. Despite some “alleged built-in protections,” the process being proposed just wasn’t foolproof against abuse.

For example, while it required doctors to advise patients about other end-of-life options — hospice, pain management, and palliative care, it did not provide sufficient protections regarding the life-ending prescription.

The elder population I work with is increasingly dependent on family members and caregivers not just for hands-on assistance, but for decision-making. This is understandable, but the sad reality is that there are many cases in which caregivers are not acting in the seniors’ best interests. 

Depending on the situation, some seniors or people with special needs could easily be influenced or, even worse, become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse out of dependency, intimidation, or fear.

In my opinion, more significant counseling and protections are required for a senior applying for a Reverse Mortgage on his home than for a life-ending prescription under the Death With Dignity Act!

OFFICE SOLUTUIONS PLUS LLC:  With Massachusetts defeating this law, it is still illegal to assist in someone’s suicide.  Isn’t this a “WIN” for our seniors?

FLYNN:  Absolutely, for seniors and for people with special needs.  Some people may be viewed by their family as a burden and they might become vulnerable by legalizing assisted suicide.  It is scary to me that the election results were so close because that implies the vote could eventually pass in the future.

OFFICE SOLUTIONS PLUS LLCAmericans have historically opposed laws that limit personal freedoms, which may have been reflected in the close electoral results on this issue.  Please comment.

FLYNN:  I agree that this explains the close result.  However, I SIMPLY DO NOT SEE SUICIDE AS A PERSONAL FREEDOM.  One comment I saw from a right-to-die proponent was that every individual should have the right to control his or her own end-of-life care.  There is a fundamental difference, however, between “end-of-life-care” and “ending one’s life.”

I do not think people have the right to end their life.  That is suicide, and that is against the law.  While I sympathize with those who suffer from irreversible and incurable conditions, we cannot put seniors and people with special needs at greater risk of exploitation and abuse in the interest of those who see this as an individual freedom. We simply need to do a better job of providing end-of-life alternatives – hospice, palliative care and pain management.

OFFICE SOLUTIONS PLUS LLC:  Should ASSISTED SUICIDE be controlled by the states or the federal government?

FLYNN:  If an assisted suicide bill eventually passed, I think state oversight would be the lesser of two evils – but I do not favor assisted suicide on any level.  There is fraud in just about every other area of government – why would we trust that it would be any different with an issue as intimate and important as this?

 OFFICE SOLUTIONS PLUS LLCFinally, do you think the interests of the general population regarding assisted suicide are different from those of the seniors and people with special needs that you represent?

 FLYNN:  No, I do not.  Although chronic, incurable, irreversible conditions tend to occur more frequently among seniors and those with special needs, these conditions can certainly strike any of us.  And when this does occur, we become a member of the vulnerable population I am most concerned about with this issue.  Perhaps this bill was defeated because enough people took a moment to put themselves in the shoes of the most vulnerable among us!

OFFICE SOLUTIONS PLUS LLC:  Thank you so much for your comments and perspective.

 

About Attorney Judith M. Flynn:  Judith M. Flynn received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Health Care Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, summa cum laude, where she received the T. Scott Miyakawa Memorial Prize for outstanding performance in the field of Sociology.  She then received her Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School, cum laude, where she was awarded the American Jurisprudence Award in Administrative Law.  Judy has offices in Hingham, Rockland, and Mansfield, where she works with elders and their families in all aspects of elder law, estate planning, and special needs planning.

 

Liz Tice1About OFFICESOLUTIONSPLUSLLC.COM Owner & Author Elizabeth Tice:

Elizabeth Tice has owned OfficeSolutionsPlusLLC.com since 2007 and achieved corporate growth of 250%. Special business offerings are state certified transcription, depositions, Open Meeting Law and Public Hearing transcripts, as well as summarized meeting minutes.

 

 

 

 

*Please VOTE on this controversial subject! VOTE YOUR RESPONSE YES OR NO in the subject line to OFFICESOLUTIONSPLUSLLC1@GMAIL.COM. Everyone who participates will receive a response upon completion indicating the results, to keep you informed on where this issue is headed!

 

 

 

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