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Mass. Doctors Support Medical Aid in Dying by 2-1 Margin, Medical Society Survey Shows

Society to Decide Saturday if it will Adopt Neutral Stance on Issue, Mass. Bill

Massachusetts doctors support giving terminally ill patients the option of medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering by a 2-1 margin, according to a survey released today at the Massachusetts Medical Society interim meeting.

The survey was released before a discussion by the society’s Reference Committee whether to recommend that the House of Delegates vote on Saturday to drop the society’s longtime opposition to medical aid in dying and adopt a stance of ‘engaged neutrality.’

“Based on our experience in other states, this vote is a very positive sign that the medical society will adopt a position of engaged neutrality that would pave the way for lawmakers to enact the End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225),” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices.

The Colorado Medical Society adopted a neutral position on medical aid in dying in 2016 after its members voted in favor of the option of medical aid in dying, 56% vs. 35%, paving the way for voters to approve the End of Life Options Act by 65% vs. 35% in Nov. 2016. The California legislature enacted the End of Life Option Act into law in 2015 after the California Medical Association dropped its longtime opposition to medical aid in dying and adopted a neutral position.

“If the medical society adopts a position of engaged neutrality, it’s important because if the state enacts a medical aid-in-dying law, the medical society will provide training to physicians who want to offer this option to their terminally ill patients,” said Rebecca Thoman, M.D., campaign manager for Doctors for Dignity for Compassion & Choices.

Six states have explicitly authorized medical aid in dying California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.  Collectively, these seven jurisdictions represent 18 percent of the nation’s population and have 40 years of combined experience of safely using this end-of-life care option.

The key survey results are below and posted here.

Numerous national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying among both U.S. physicians and Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum.