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Amherst Becomes 4th Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Endorse Medical Aid in Dying

Amherst Town Meeting Passes Resolution in Favor of the End of Life Options Act, Group Reports

Compassion & Choices praised the Amherst Town Meeting for voting tonight to endorse the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225). The approval vote makes Amherst the fourth jurisdiction to support medical aid in dying as an option for mentally capable, terminally ill Massachusetts adult residents with six months or less to live to end unbearable suffering.

The Amherst vote comes less than two weeks after Northampton became the third jurisdiction in the state to endorse the End of Life Options Act.

“We are thrilled that members of the Town Meeting voted to take the lead in supporting this compassionate end-of-life option,” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices. “The Amherst endorsement and the recent Northampton endorsement show that momentum is building across the state for the End of Life Options Act.”

The resolutions call on lawmakers to pass the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Louis Kafka (8th Norfolk district), and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (2nd Essex & Middlesex district). The Town Meeting will transmit the resolution to  Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and to state legislators representing Amherst.

Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes intolerable. The medical practice has a combined 40 years of safe use and no incidents of misuse in the seven authorized jurisdictions of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and the District of Columbia. 

The campaign to pass the resolution in Amherst was spearheaded by long-time resident Nadine Shank and the Pioneer Valley Death with Dignity Action Group.

Last year, Cambridge and Provincetown passed similar resolutions in favor of medical aid in dying.