Death On Demand

The right to die. Death with dignity. Assisted suicide. It’s the law in Oregon, Washington. It’s on the ballot in Massachusetts. We’ll look at “death on demand.”

Photo illustration. (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Photo illustration. (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Death comes in many ways.  Some beautiful.  Some terrible.  For some, unbearable.  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.

A lethal prescription of barbituates – 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.

This hour, On Point:  A transcontinental conversation about how we do, should, and might die.

-Tom Ashbrook


Barbara Coombs Leepresident 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.

From Tom’s Reading List

You can find the Massachusetts ballot issue here.

CBS “Supporters of the Die with Dignity movement are calling for that money to be returned, after controversial comments by an executive director that were posted on YouTube.”

Suffolk University “Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) supported the proposed Prescribing Medication to End Life law, which would allow Massachusetts licensed physicians to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of terminally ill patients meeting certain conditions.”

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