The widow of longtime Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy has emerged as a leading opponent of a Massachusetts ballot initiative that would legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Victoria Kennedy, an attorney and health care advocate in her own right, says that the “Death with Dignity” initiative runs counter to her late husband’s legacy.
Kennedy first came out against the measure, called “Question 2” on the Massachusetts ballot, in an op-ed for the Cape Cod Times.
“I do not judge nor intend to preach to others about decisions they make at the end of life,” she wrote, “but I believe we’re all entitled to know the facts about the law we’re being asked to enact.”
Kennedy’s position has given hope to opponents of the assisted suicide initiative, which has been leading in the polls. Public Policy Polling found hat 56 percent of state voters planned to vote in favor of Question 2.
The National Catholic Reporter described Kennedy’s intervention as “huge.” Question 2 opponents have circulated her op-ed widely heading into next Tuesday’s vote.
“My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life,” she wrote. “Question 2 turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide — not patient care — as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life.”
“We’re better than that,” she continued.
Kennedy said that her husband had been given a prognosis of two to four months, but instead lived another 15 months. During that time, he cast key Senate votes, endorsed Barack Obama, addressed the Democratic National Convention and attended Obama’s inauguration.
“Most of us wish for a good and happy death, with as little pain as possible, surrounded by loved ones, perhaps with a doctor and/or clergyman at our bedside,” Kennedy wrote. “But under Question 2, what you get instead is a prescription for up to 100 capsules, dispensed by a pharmacist, taken without medical supervision, followed by death, perhaps alone.”
She called this prescription “harsh and extreme.”
While Question 2 opponents hope this is a game-changer, Vicki Kennedy’s late endorsement of Martha Coakley in the special election to fill her husband’s Senate seat failed to halt Republican Scott Brown’s momentum.
Kennedy also declined to run for Senate herself, both in 2010 and this year.
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