First Unitarian Society in Newton

Proposed Public Position Statement: Death with Dignity Act

Proposed Public Position Statement: Death with Dignity Act

By unanimous vote, the FUSN Board of Trustees has referred a resolution in support of the Death With Dignity Act to the congregation for its consideration at the Annual Meeting, scheduled for Sunday, June 10. With two dissenting votes and one abstention, the board also recommended approval of the resolution by the congregation. Passage of the resolution will require a 75 percent supermajority of those voting (assuming a quorum is present). The text of the resolution is below.

On Sunday, June 3 at 9 a.m., the Dignity2012 Project of FUSN’s Council for Social Action will host the second of two congregational discussions. We hope to have a guest speaker from the ballot initiative’s sponsoring organization, Dignity2012. At that meeting, as well as at the Annual Meeting, FUSN’s sponsoring group wishes to encourage full participation by our members and friends, to ask any questions they may have or respectfully voice their views both for and against the Death with Dignity Act, or for and against the proposed resolution for FUSN to support it.

Speaking on the express behalf of both the Board of Trustees and the Council for Social Action, we believe that a healthy and respectful exchange of ideas on this matter is important so that we can all feel good about the outcome of our vote on June 10. We want everyone to feel that their views are welcome, valued and respected.

Learn more about the issue:

• In 1988, the UUA took a formal position on the general concept of a patient’s Right to Die.

• The text of the proposed legislation, as well as a much shorter summary written by the Attorney General, can be found at the website of its sponsoring organization, Dignity2012.

• The first state to have similar legislation, Oregon, has collected data surrounding its implementation, and has published that data

• The only other state with similar legislation, Washington, has some data available, but it is limited because the law is recent. 

This resolution will be presented for a congregational vote on June 10:

Whereas the Unitarian Universalist Association has eloquently expressed support for the principle of patient choice to die in The Right to Die with Dignity General Resolution of 1988, and

Whereas the First Unitarian Society of Newton has examined that General Resolution and finds favor with it, and

Whereas the pending ballot Initiative known at the Death With Dignity Law will appear on the Massachusetts ballot in November, 2012, and

Whereas members of this congregation have closely compared the language of the proposed Death with Dignity Law with the principles enunciated in The Right to Die with Dignity General Resolution, and find the former to be in basic agreement with the latter in both letter and spirit, and

Whereas we find the Death With Dignity Law is consistent with our interpretation of the First UU Principle (The inherent worth and dignity of every person) and the Second UU Principle (Justice, equity and compassion in human relations), and

Whereas thorough discussion among our members have resulted in general agreement,

Be it therefore resolved that the First Unitarian Society of Newton, in general membership meeting on this the 10th Day of June, 2012, supports the proposed Death With Dignity Law, and urges others to do the same, and empowers its officers and staff to take good-faith public actions with the objective of advancing general societal support for the enactment of that law.


Barney Freiberg-Dale


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