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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.

The bill is at this link: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H1998.

The Massachusetts bill is modeled on legislation in Oregon and other states where aid in dying has been proven to be good policy and medical practice. It allows terminally ill adults to request and obtain a prescription from their physician for medication that the patient can self-administer to bring about a peaceful and humane death. It allows medical providers to decline to fulfill the patient’s request, and protects them from liability or professional disciplinary action if they do, and it safeguards against any coercion of patients and honors a patient’s right to rescind the request.

Compassion & Choices is the oldest and largest national non-profit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. To learn more about Compassion & Choices visitwww.compassionandchoices.org.