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Massachusetts Voters Deny Rights to Terminally-Ill People

Massachusetts Question 2 election results: 49% (yes) to 51% (no)

Despite strong early support for Death with Dignity in Massachusetts the final vote tally didn't give more Americans another end-of-life option. In the end, the opponents' enormous smear campaign based on fear and misinformation won the day. But the foundation for support has been built, and we'll keep working to make sure voters in Massachusetts and other states get the facts they need for an open and honest debate about Death with Dignity.

Together, we've changed the entire conversation around end-of-life care policy reform. A little over a year ago, many people in Massachusetts and throughout New England started hearing about Death with Dignity laws for the first time, and since that time, the need for these carefully crafted laws has been a hot topic on television programs, news publications, blogs, editorial columns, and countless letters to editors.

Polls showed people were ready for a Death with Dignity law in Massachusetts, and many shared their stories with the public at an unprecedented level. One such person is Jim Carberry.  He, like so many of you who've come to support Death with Dignity, watched a loved one die a long, painful, and protracted death. His wife, Margie didn't have the option to die on her own terms in the final stages of her terminal illness—something she so desperately wanted after her tumor aggressively returned in 2007.

She wanted to survive long enough to see their daughters graduate from high school and endured many invasive medical procedures to keep her body functional through those milestones. She was out of curative treatment options. Even after chemotherapy was no longer helping, she worked with her medical team to keep her body going.

Margie lived to see both of their daughters graduate, and through both graduations she was radiant, a proud mother who celebrated her daughters' achievements. A week after graduation, she spoke with her family, clergy, and medical team and decided to remove her feeding tube and meet death on her terms.

Though she was ready, she suffered another five weeks before her body gave out. Margie wanted the option to shorten her suffering, but that option doesn't yet exist in her state.

Margie wasn't alone in her support for a Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act. Polls before the election showed a strong majority of people in Massachusetts also wanted this choice. As a result, opponents from all over the country who object based on their own beliefs—even anti-gay hate groups—poured millions of dollars into the state to spread lies and falsehoods in a three-week all out media blitz. Unfortunately, this time, they were successful in misleading voters.

Support is still strong and will continue to grow as more people learn the truth about Death with Dignity. Not since Washingtonians approved their state's Death with Dignity law in 2008 has another state come so close to passing the next Death with Dignity Act. The recent efforts in Massachusetts have directly changed the national conversation around death, dying, and assisted death, and that is a huge step forward for our entire movement.

Everyone deserves to decide how to live the rest of their lives when death is near. We'll continue to move forward as people throughout the US join their voices together to demand more end-of-life options. The Death with Dignity National Center will stand with them, just as we did this year in Massachusetts, in Washington in 2008, and 18 years ago in Oregon.

Posted on November 7, 2012 in Massachusetts, New England, Personal Stories, Press Room


Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 8, 2012 at 08:03 p.m.

It has to be in God's time! Not our time! We can't pick out our time to go. From conception to Natural Death. Suicide is not Natural Death.

Posted by Melissa Barber on November 12, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.

Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing your opinion, but not everyone agrees with your personal beliefs. We live in a country with separation of church and state, and our laws should reflect the diversity of religion found throughout the US. When a person is dying due to a terminal illness and seeking a way to hasten an already inevitable and imminent death, suicide is an inaccurate term.

Melissa Barber
Director of Digital Communications
Death with Dignity National Center

Posted by Michael Roesche... (not verified) on November 12, 2012 at 08:44 p.m.

Anonymous, what's between me and my god is between me and my God! It's certainly not your decision to judge my actions. There are many cases if you looking into the bible whereby mercy killing was known to not let people suffer. For myself I'm am the unfortunate recipient of the knowledge that suffering is not dignify.

My mom died on March 20 of this year from pancreatic cancer. I was with her the last 14 hours of her life holding her hand as she died. The days preceding her death consisted of gasping for breath her mouth drying out why she defecated in urinated on herself! I have fact of God, not faith My personal experiences in life recently have brought me to believe and know there is indeed a higher power. It is also my belief that that higher power would not condemn me or my mother if she or I chose not to suffer.

100% of the people could've voted yes, and then those who chose not to take that direction could've simply not gotten the prescription! Instead due to ignorance of the facts of the bill, many misleading advertisements, the residents of Massachusetts have condemned everybody to suffer.

I love my mom dearly. I am horrified by the memories of watching her suffer. Suffering so horrific I hoped to proceed with the bill like this, not knowing that there was already a movement. Therefore two hours before my mom died so that those of you do not understand what the best palletive of care has to offer you right now, I videotaped my mother gasping for breath. Someday when this movement brings this bill before the state of Massachusetts again, and adds of dumping hundreds of pills into a bucket for people using big words to try to scare people I look forward to the opportunity to bring my mom suffering directly to you so you can understand when you vote NO what you're condemning everybody else to. People are not supposed to die this way, we don't Let our pets.

I love you mom, I'm sorry you didn't have a choice.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 30, 2012 at 12:54 a.m.

Keep fighting guys. You are on the right side of history

Posted by astralprojectee (not verified) on December 3, 2012 at 03:47 p.m.

To put it lightly, F*** those who voted no on this bill. I hope they have a nice, slow, painful death so that they can think about the suffering they not only caused themselves but others.

On a more lighter note I take back my death wish, since I was once upon a time brainwashed like them. A Christian brainwashed by propaganda.

It's time for you religious people to think for themselves and stop acting like a brainwashed robots in opposing physician aided suicide, as it would not effect those who do not want it anyway. There is absolutely nothing in the bible that would oppose this kind of legislation, if you were duped into believing we have to die a natural death then why don't you also believe that you should not see a doctor when your sick. What if you were about to die a natural death from some disease, yet I am sure that you would go to the doctor for synthetic medicines to save your life. What kind of F***en logic and reasoning is that?

Posted by Rich (not verified) on January 9, 2014 at 02:51 a.m.

I only regret not doing everything I could while the vote was still open.


Posted by Justin (not verified) on July 24, 2015 at 02:24 p.m.

This is sad to see, I wish I could have done more when I did...of course I voted on this but I still feel as though I could have done more. I'm so glad a site like this around to rally people together under one roof for causes like this, there needs to be more awareness on topics such as this..thank you for this.


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