Do Voters Understand the Details of Question 2?
Last night, I attended Representative Jay Kaufman's (D-Lexington) public policy forum “Open House” along with John Kelly, the Direct of Second Thoughts, who was speaking at the forum in opposition to Question 2 – the statewide ballot question facing Massachusetts voters this Election Day.
While walking into the Historic Depot in Lexington Center, I overheard from attendees that turnout for this particular public policy forum is larger than usual. Representative Kaufman expressed the same observations and believed the large turnout was because the ballot questions will challenge Massachusetts voters both politically and ethically.
The forum began with a debate over Question 2, the ballot question that would legalize physician assisted suicide. Opening remarks were made from Attorney Jim Gross, President of Compassion and Choices, as the proponent and John Kelly offered opening remarks as the opponent to Question 2. They continued to debate the merits of Question 2 and try and convince voters why they should vote Yes or No on Election Day.
As I watched the debate, it dawned on me that Rep. Kaufman was right: turnout was high not only because of the political nature of Question 2, but also the emotional and ethical issues wrapped up in this binding ballot question. The issue of end of life care is a personal issue for every family. There is no doubt Question 2 raises emotional issues. But as the crowd heard from John Kelly, the proposed ballot question, the language which cannot be changed before Election Day, contains major flaws that voters must consider before they vote. Two of which were discussed in depth at the forum:
- The law does not require patients to notify their family members that they intend to take the lethal medication. Don’t all of us want the right to at least be notified if a loved one wants to end their life with a lethal prescription? That protection is not contained in Question 2.
- No one has to witness the patient taking the medication. There’s no records if a patient takes the lethal dose or if its left lying around their house. We have record keeping of who bought Sudafed at their local pharmacy than what is contained in Question 2.
This is alarming to me and I think the crowd was surprised to hear this information. No matter how people felt about Question 2 walking into the forum, I think many left believing the necessary safeguards are not in the this ballot question. Even if they support the concept of physician assisted suicide, when informed about the flaws in Question 2, I found many reconsidering their vote to a NO vote on Question 2.