Most of us who live in Massachusetts feel fairly confident about our health care. Not only is the state ranked number five overall throughout the nation, but here on Cape Cod, bridge construction notwithstanding, we have great access to world famous hospitals. But although Boston is known as the world’s hub of medical innovation, we’re hardly in the vanguard of those states that offer compassion and dignity to the terminally ill. In Massachusetts terminally ill people do not have the right to decide for themselves to die peacefully should their suffering become intolerable…this in spite of the fact that pain is shown to be increasing in the last year of dying people’s lives; that polls show the vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum want the option; and that in those states that allow medical aid in dying risks for those groups who were most afraid of being targeted have simply not materialized.
My guest today is Dr. Roger Kligler, a physician from Falmouth who has incurable stage 4 prostate cancer, a type of cancer that is known to cause unbearable end-of-life pain. Dr. Kligler is suing the state of Massachusetts to allow him, and many thousands of other terminally ill patients, to have the option of receiving a prescription medication that will end their suffering by allowing them to die gently in their sleep.