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Features for Senior Citizens

Death on Demand – the Law in Oregon, on Ballot in Massachusetts, a Hot Radio Show

Dramatic one-hour radio show by Tom Ashbrook has already generated 230 comments - available online

Oct. 19, 2012 – Assisted suicide, euthanasia, right to die, death with dignity – or whatever it’s called -is an unpleasant topic that most had rather not discuss but it grabs the attention of many seniors. Tom Ashbrook of the radio show “On Point,” has lots of people talking, mostly about the voting taking place in Massachusetts that may make it legal there.

“Death on Demand,” is the name of his show and much of it is about the law that already exists in Oregon. The Massachusetts law will work about the same – it will allow physicians to prescribe medication, at a terminally ill patient’s request, to end their own life.

The U.S. debate is also reviving the discussion around the world.


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“Since 1999, when an American court gave Jack Kevorkian a lengthy jail sentence after he admitted helping 130 patients to die, a big change has quietly taken place,” notes the Economist in an article appearing in print tomorrow.

“Next month voters in Massachusetts will decide whether a terminally ill patient, with less than six months to live, will be able to ask for a doctor’s help in committing suicide. If, as expected, the vote goes in favor of the proposal, the state will become the third in America to liberalize its laws.”

The Economist points out that assisted suicide is already permitted in seven countries and  is now being considered in New Zealand, Quebec, Australia and Britain.

"It is to be hoped that the current wave of liberalization will continue, for those who suffer at the end of their lives have been too long denied the right to an easeful death," says the Economist.

“Death comes in many ways. Some beautiful. Some terrible. For some, unbearable,” says radio commentator Ashbrook, whose show is heard mostly on National Public Radio (NPR).

“Some states have voted to let doctors help ease the way. The language itself is a battlefield: right to die, ‘death with dignity,’ assisted suicide," he says about the show.

“A lethal prescription of barbiturates – carefully considered, sipped yourself – and you’re gone. It’s legal in Oregon, Washington. Failed legalization efforts in California, Maine, Hawaii. Now, it’s on the ballot in Massachusetts."

The guests on his show are the following:

Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding and protecting the rights of the terminally ill.

Edward Lowenstein, professor of anesthesia and professor of medical ethics in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Michael Grodin, director of the Medical Ethics and Human Rights Programs at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, where he is also a Professor of Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights.

The one hour audio show has quickly generated 230 comments on Ashbrook’s website.

Most of those who have an interest in this topic are probably senior citizens.

Click here to home page and link to audio recording.

Click to the report in The Economist

>> Assisted Suicide: Right or Wrong, Santa Clara University

>> Assisted Suicide Laws in U.S., Patients Rights Council

>> Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: All sides to the issue,

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