For more information on state ballot initiatives go to ballotpedia.org
Two states have major referendums on key issues related to end of life and drug pricing. In California, voters will decide on whether drug prices paid by state programs will not be allowed to be higher than prices paid by the Veterans Administration (VA). This proposition may set the record for the most money ever spent on a proposition in California with estimates of over $100 million when the campaign is over. Despite massive spending by the pharmaceutical industry, this issue is currently ahead in the polls in the state with about 70% support. Many community organizations and unions and others including AARP are supporting it. An AIDS advocacy organization is the largest funder of the effort to support the proposition.
Meanwhile in Colorado, a proposal to support assisted suicide for those terminally ill is on the ballot and current polls show it has over 70% approval. Previous votes in other states were much closer with Massachusetts defeating a similar proposal in 2012 by a margin of 51%- 49%. Since then though, California’s Legislature has enacted such a policy which went into effect earlier this year. The advocacy organization, Compassion and Choices, has spent over $4.5 million supporting the measure with the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver spending over a $1 million opposing it.
The New York Times reported today that the Netherlands, where the right to die was enacted in 2001, is now proposing allowing healthy older persons to take their own lives if they think they have had a complete life. The proposed law does not even have a minimum age so it basically would allow persons of any age to do so. Opponents have expressed concern that it provides an opportunity for those who are depressed or have mental health issues at any age to legally take their own lives. It basically promotes suicide.
An argument was recently made in this country that if assisted suicide is enacted and it allows an older person, a grandparent to take their life if they are terminally ill, what message does it send to a troubled younger person who may have mental health or addiction problems – perhaps it normalizes suicide at a time when the suicide rate is rising in many areas across the country.