In what seems like a lifetime ago, I began my activism against assisted suicide in a small dorm on the University of Maine campus in Orono, never imagining that I’d still be arguing the same points about such a flawed law that was enacted in Oregon in 1997. That year I went to Washington, D.C., to protest outside the Supreme Court (on a day that was bitter cold by even Maine standards) as they heard the Vacco v. Quill case, which challenged the constitutionality of New York state’s ban on assisted suicide.
A year later I testified in front of the Maine Legislature for the first time against assisted suicide. By then, it had been defeated a handful of times. It failed that year as well, and voters soundly defeated a referendum on the same legislation in 2000.
Maine people know that when you are looking at issues of life and death, you look to the experts in their fields. In testimony at a work session on this same proposal in 2017, the Maine Hospice Council estimated there was a large segment of Maine, roughly the size of Rhode Island, that has no access to hospice or other palliative or end-of-life services. Legal options such as advance care planning are already available to let others know your healthcare wishes.
A bill heard in the Legislature in 2015 revealed that Maine does not have the infrastructure to provide care for individuals who have certain forms of neuromuscular disabilities and require the use of a ventilator. The only options then were care provided out of state.
We have no business discussing assisted suicide when quality palliative care is not accessible across the state. With Maine finally expanding its state-funded healthcare to populations who have gone without it for years, there are far too many issues that make assisted suicide incompatible with Maine values.
Read more at Bangor Daily News…