End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Massachusetts News

Press Release: Death with Dignity Stalls in Massachusetts Legislature Despite Broad Public Support

Compassion & Choices Urges Committee to Move Legislation to the Floor

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2014

(Boston) – Today lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Public Health in the Massachusetts legislature recommended a study order on legislation that has broad popular support in the state, the Terminally Ill Patient’s Right to Compassionate Aid-in-Dying act. Marie Manis, Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices Massachusetts, issued the following statement in response to the vote:

“If these legislators are listening to their constituents, they will move quickly and take this bill up, again, for the sake of thousands of terminally ill Massachusetts residents and the people who love them. This is good legislation, and we are confident that with further study, the Committee will recognize its merits.  Given the depth of support for it, we fully expect the passage of death-with-dignity legislation in the Commonwealth. Since the ballot initiative on this issue, public support has grown tremendously. Citizens understand their government has no business interfering in their personal medical decisions and limiting their end-of-life choices.”

A Purple Insights poll from February 2014 shows 71 percent of likely Massachusetts voters support the legislation and 79 percent oppose government meddling in the private decisions terminally ill patients make with their families and doctors. 73 percent, including 65 percent of Catholics, said they would want to have the option available to end their own lives should they become terminally ill. More

Group supporting ‘aid in dying’ bill launches advocacy push

[Excerpt from article]

A national advocacy group has launched a wave of telephone calls in Massachusetts to encourage support of a bill that would allow certain terminally ill patients in this state to obtain a prescription to end their own lives.

Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit group that advocates for “aid in dying” across the country, said it has volunteers and a calling service reaching out to potential supporters in the state asking them to press their lawmakers on the issue. A spokeswoman said the group is also running targeted ads about the issue online and in print.

As part of the push, about two dozen people gathered in the State House on Wednesday morning to lobby lawmakers to move the bill forward.

Read the full article here.

70% of Mass. voters want more end of life choices

The bill would allow terminally-ill patients to self-administer a prescribed, life-ending drug

[Excerpt of article]

BOSTON (WWLP) – End-of-life option supporters delivered nearly 7,000 petitions signed by voters who support “Death with Dignity.” The bill would give an adult with less than six months to live the option to self-administer a prescribed, life-ending drug. Campaign Manager, Marie Manis, said the proposed bill will offer more choices to terminally-ill patients.

“Many people get a prescription and don’t ever even fill it, but they have the peace of mind knowing that they don’t have to have an awful, horrible ending,” said Marie Manis of Compassion & Choices.

A “Death with Dignity” ballot failed in 2012, but not by much. 51% of Massachusetts voters rejected the idea of legalized suicide.

Read the full article here.

‘Death With Dignity’ supporters want Mass. lawmakers to take up bill

[Excerpt of article]

(NECN: Alison King) – Massachusetts voters rejected a Death With Dignity law in 2012, but right-to-die supporters on Wednesday say they’re not giving up.

The legislation would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults the right to end their lives.

“I really feel that when I’m terminally ill, that when it comes my time, that I would like to have some ability to make decisions on how I’m going to die,” Watertown resident Susan Shapiro says.

Shapiro is a clinical worker who has recurring cancer.

“People are afraid to talk about death and its very frightening to them,” she says, “but I think when you talk to people individually, a lot of people would want to have that choice.”

Read the full article here.

On The Trail, The Political Becomes Personal [online poll]

[Excerpt of article]

Gary Holder-Winfield watched his mother die a slow painful death over four years in the hospital. That helped convince him to embrace a controversial bill coming up in the state legislature—to allow physicians to help terminally ill patients take their lives.

Holder-Winfield, a state representative, reflected on his personal transformation on that issue as he trudged up the hills of Upper Westville Sunday afternoon.

He trudged carefully. The sidewalks were treacherously icy. He slipped repeatedly, nearly falling and scattering campaign brochures all over the ice-encrusted snow-white lawns on Stevenson Road. Then he resumed speaking about his mother’s death as he met a basement room full of Democrats, about how he sees his pursuit of elected office as a continuation of her legacy.

Read the entire article here.