To the editor:

As the pastor of the Universalist Unitarian church here in Haverhill, I've spent time with a number of people facing declining health and death. Among them and their loved ones, a common concern is the pain, suffering and loss of dignity the final days can bring.

As a person of faith, I place the highest value on the sanctity of life. This means paying attention to people and to their particular circumstances, trying to help and not to harm.

But sometimes our society seems to want only to prolong life, at all costs, because we are afraid of death.

The book of Deuteronomy says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursing: choose life, so that you and your descendants might live."

For me, choosing life is as much about quality as quantity, and it means limiting human suffering as best we can. Choosing life can be helping someone with a terminal diagnosis to have a good death.

There will be varied opinions in the congregation I serve about the “Death with Dignity” bill, so I speak only for myself.

I encourage others who support this bill to join me in contacting our state representatives and senators. Urge them to support and vote for passage of the End of Life Options Act (H.1926 and S.1208) before the April 1 deadline in the Public Health Committee, and then before the Legislature adjourns on July 31.

Rev. Frank Clarkson

Haverhill

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