from our blog:

living with dying

read more from our blog

Death with Dignity Qualifies for Massachusetts November Ballot

"The initiative petition will be printed on the November 6, 2012, state election ballot."

-from the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth to Dignity 2012

After a long, winding road, the Massachusetts Death with Dignity initiative completed the final step of the process to appear on the November ballot! After collecting nearly double the number of signatures necessary for the second and final signature-gathering phase, the Secretary of the Commonwealth certified that the citizen petition will be put before voters this fall during the presidential election.

This final round of signature gathering proved to be another demonstration of strong support for the measure from all over Massachusetts; signatures were certified from all 14 counties in order to qualify the Death with Dignity initiative for the November ballot. Michael from Dignity 2012 shared the great news with supporters in an email earlier today. He summarized the path to the ballot in his message:

Our long journey to the ballot started nearly one year ago.

Last August, a group of citizens joined to propose the law. The team included two former Editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, two Professors of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, and leaders in the legal, civil rights, disabilities, and faith based communities. The proposed law was approved by the Attorney General.

During the fall, hundreds of volunteers helped to submit 86,000 certified petition signatures to complete the first step towards the ballot, which introduced the petition as a bill before the Legislature.

Starting in April, we collected 21,000 additional petition signatures to finally put the Death with Dignity Act on the statewide November ballot.

Throughout the course of the qualification process, the initiative has caught the attention of many media outlets. Michael mentioned one such insightful article in today's email:

Growing attention led several newspapers to look into the law and write about the many safeguards of the proposed law. Among them was Boston Magazine, which reported that the Death with Dignity Act is "a measured proposal loaded with safeguards, and it reflects the wisdom and experience of a diverse group of experts."

After what's felt like a long, circuitous journey to get to this point, this final step to qualify for the ballot sparks beginning of what now becomes a dash to the election. Support throughout the state is strong—a recent poll showed Bay Staters support Death with Dignity by a margin of two to one; as part of our partnership with Dignity 2012 we'll keep working to make sure the people of Massachusetts continue to get the facts about this important end-of-life option. Please support our efforts with a tax-deductible donation today.

Posted on July 6, 2012 in Massachusetts, New England, Press Room


Posted by Randee Laikind (not verified) on July 6, 2012 at 07:41 p.m.

Just the best news ever. Ready to commit every ounce of energy to getting this passed!!!

Posted by Arline Hinckley (not verified) on July 9, 2012 at 02:25 p.m.

Congratulations to DDNC and Dignity 2012! Those of us in Washington and Oregon who have had a Death with Dignity law for some years know it works as intended - cautiously, safely and rarely. It comforts many more people than the small number who actually use the medication. The sense of relief and control dying adults have from having options if suffering becomes intolerable quiets fear, lifts depression and frees them to use their limited energy for living the best life they can, as long as they can. We will watch with great interest in November and hope the citizens of Massachusetts see through the scare tactics of the opposition and decide to give themselves the option of choosing death with dignity. Good Luck!

Posted by d.feller@fronti... (not verified) on August 6, 2012 at 02:59 p.m.

As an Oregonian and one who has advocated for this for decades, I applaud MA for their enlighted approach to granting choices to their citizens. Ancient belief systems have been scientifically proven to be what they are, mere opinions of uneducated peoples who would impress their personal views of life & death upon the masses who are compassionate! DF

Posted by thylawyer (not verified) on August 6, 2012 at 05:47 p.m.

I have to oppose this petition, which does nothing for persons facing Alzheimer's or other senior dementia. My mother lived for ten years in a nursing home with increasing dementia and like most patients in nursing homes with this diagnosis, she was ignored and, though my brother visited almost daily, she was often found with bed sores and lying in her own excrement. She would not be covered by this law, and I resent those who go along with this extremely limited proposed statute. I am 70, and I have begun having the memory lapses my mother had. You are going to force me to commit suicide with no dignity, and without friends and relatives in attendance, as they could be charged with a crime.

Posted by Melissa Barber on August 10, 2012 at 01:22 p.m.

I'm so sorry you feel that way, thylawer. An important safeguard in the Oregon, Washington, and proposed Massachusetts Death with Dignity Acts is patients themselves are the only ones deciding whether or not to hasten death in their final days, and no one else is deciding for them. For this reason, people must be mentally competent to make their own healthcare decisions throughout the request process and when they ingest the medication.

Melissa Barber
Director of Digital Communications
Death with Dignity National Center

Add new comment

Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

donate today