During the recently adjourned legislative session, the House passed LD 1270, An Act Regarding Patient-Directed Care at the End of Life, while the Senate failed to pass it by one vote.

Why, I ask, would one vote no on what should be a fundamental right? On what basis would an objective legislator refuse to allow a sane, rational, person who is in the process of dying, to die in a humane way, and condemn him or her to suffer the indignities and pain that usually accompanies death by a horrific disease?

This well thought-out bill covered all objections. There was no requirement that a physician participate. Under the legislation, a willing physician would have written the prescription for a drug that will bring on death and then be done with it. A patient would already be in the process of dying as attested by two physicians, and the patient would undergo psychological testing and counseling, which includes all available alternatives. It is patterned after the Vermont and Oregon laws that have been in place with no associated problems.

Objections voiced at the hearing for this bill and elsewhere included the hospice and palliative care options, that we are not capable of knowing when our life should end, that such an act would be playing God, that this would be an act of suicide, that it would go against one’s religion, and that disabled and or depressed individuals would end their lives unnecessarily.

Hospice care usually includes the administering of pain-killing drugs when needed. Unfortunately, these drugs are not always effective, as those who were in attendance when my mother was dying could attest.

Under the terms of this bill, a rational person could and would know exactly when his or her life should end. Religion should have no role to play when considering the passage of any law. Your religion is yours; mine is mine. Lawmakers, and anyone else, overstep their bounds whenever they attempt to impose their religious beliefs on someone else.

Disabled and depressed individuals would not qualify for the death drug under the terms of this bill. Suicide is an act performed by someone who is usually depressed. Under the terms of this bill, such individuals would not pass the rigid and repeated screening and counseling that would be required. And even if you choose to call it suicide, it is none of your business how I end my life. There are many ways. Unfortunately, many of them are messy or traumatic for the survivors. LD 1270 offered a certain, assured and painless way of dying.

No better, more profound testimony was given or could have been given at the May hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee than that by a woman, already ravaged with cancer, who vividly described how she expected to agonizingly die at the hands of her disease. She begged the committee to recommend this bill for passage, allowing that she could move to Vermont and get the pill, but that she would rather die in her beloved state of Maine surrounded by her loved ones.

I urge all legislators to grant this fundamental right by voting yes the next time this bill is considered.

Alfred Webster, a summer resident of Dedham, is a retired teacher.