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Waltham City Council unites to urge 'No on Question 2'

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WALTHAM - Mayor Jeannette McCarthy and the 15 city councilors have endorsed the "no" position on Question 2 which, if passed, would legalize assisted suicide in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The councilors are urging Waltham residents and residents across the state to do the same.

Councilor-at-large Diane LeBlanc encouraged her council colleagues to examine the issue and to take a position. In a press release, she said "this question has received almost no public debate which is very troubling. It is important that those who have examined it closely, and see the very serious flaws and lack of protections, speak out. If people take a hard look at this law - even those who support assisted suicide - should vote no."

LeBlanc noted that it is not common for elected officials to speak out on ballot questions, but that Waltham councilors are making an exception because of the life and death issue at stake. They all agree that Question 2 has significant flaws.

In a full page advertisement expected to run in the Waltham News Tribune on November 2 the Councilors point to these concerns: (1) patients are not required to consult a psychiatrist or palliative care/hospice experts, or to notify family members, even though many terminally ill patients suffer from depression. (2) There is no doctor present when the patient takes the lethal prescription. (3) Most doctors agree that 6 months prognosis are often wrong.

They also mention in the advertisement that learning organizations such as the Massachusetts Medical Society, Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, as well as many advocacy groups for the disabled all strongly oppose assisted suicide or specifically Question 2.

Joining with Mayor McCarthy urging a "No on Question 2" vote are Waltham City Council President Robert J. Waddick, Council Vice President Kenneth B. Doucette, At-Large Councilors Paul J. Brasco, Diane P. LeBlanc, Kathleen B. McMenimen, Thomas M. Stanley and Joseph Vizard and Ward Councilors Daniel P. Romard, Edmund P. Tarallo, George A. Darcey III, Thomas J. Curtin, Gary J. Marchese, Joseph M. Giordano Jr., Stephen F. Rourke, and Robert G. Logan.

Mayor McCarthy stated, "the current law provides for health care proxies and hospice care. The proposed law is flawed. It does not provide for family or medical oversight at a most vulnerable time in a person's life."

Councilor Daniel P. Romard remarked, "The flaws in the proposed law and underlying lack of safeguards, deems this choice inconceivable and a threat to human welfare."

The Dean of the Council, Kathleen McMenimen commented, "My personal belief that suicide is against God's law, natural law, and the laws of a moral civilization. Additionally the American Medical Association and pharmacists across the commonwealth are completely against this ballot question. I intend to vote "No" and urge others to vote "No" too.

Councilor Edmund P. Tarallo shared "one of my reasons that I do not support Question 2 is that it is not truly physician assisted. The prescription in not administered by a physician; it is self-administered without a doctor or anyone else needing to be present."

Councilor Joseph Giordano commented "it is just wrong that a mental health evaluation is not required and that there is no requirement to let a family member know that you plan to take a lethal dose of medication that will kill you."

In an interview with the Pilot, Father James DiPerri, pastor of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted parish, commented that the "show of unity of the Waltham City Council with the mayor in unanimous opposition to Question 2 is moving," he said. "When fair-minded people, even with ideologies that span the political spectrum, examine Question 2 and get beyond its misleading language, they will unite in opposition to this flawed bill."

DiPerri preached on the issue of assisted suicide in mid-October and will be playing the homily of Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley at all Masses on October 27 and 28. He has joined with the other pastors in Waltham to educate the city's Catholic community.

"It's important that every Catholic reach out to our neighbors to ask them if they have heard about Question 2 and express the many concerns we have."

LeBlanc urges voters not to be misled by the language of the ballot question which she contends has been masterfully crafted to confuse voters. She said "we have a responsibility to ensure that all laws are just, and as written, this law is not just. Please vote no on question 2."

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