While Berkshire County approved it 35,883 to 25,231, Question 2 on Tuesday’s ballot was contentious enough across the state that the race couldn’t be called until Wednesday.
While we were disappointed with the Death with Dignity Act’s defeat, we concede that there can never be too much thought put into a measure that literally deals in life and death. The initiative’s failure is a perfect chance to begin a serious dialogue on the loopholes that many felt existed in this law as presented to voters.
While we feel the law was more thorough in its fail-safes than its opponents described, there are some areas that could benefit from further clarification.
The language addresses many angles, but we think the idea’s champions should speak more directly in their campaign to some of the concerns we heard.
There is the question of how the terminally ill choosing to end life would be viewed by an insurance company. While that person might not morally look at the decision as suicide, an insurance company is often inclined by clause to refuse full life insurance benefits in the event of a suicide.
Many voters had reservations about who would be present during the life-ending drug’s use. Would a doctor be present in the final moments? What if the drug’s effectiveness was compromised in some unanticipated way by medications or a physical condition, leading to a death that was not as dignified as intended? Who is authorized to handle this lethal dose once the decision is made so that it cannot fall into unintended hands?
These are important questions where many voters did not seem to have the answers at their fingertips.
We trust that the proponents of the Death with Dignity Act have learned from what made voters trepidatious Tuesday and intend to work on the areas where the law as drafted, and its presentation, might be lacking.