Massachusetts State Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton), together with 44 co-sponsors, introduced H.1194, An Act Relative to End of Life Options, on January 27, 2017. Massachusetts State Senator Barbara L’Italien, with 11 co-sponsors, introduced a companion bill in the state Senate the same day (S.1225).
Both bills were referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health. A hearing for the two bills took place on September 26, 2017.
The Committee extended the reporting (vote) date for H.1194 to June 30, 2018 and for S.1225 to March 22, 2018. The Committee subsequently on March 26 sent the Senate bill and on June 13 the House bill to study, effectively ending their chances of passage in the 2018 session.
A bill will likely be re-introduced in 2019.
The 2017-2018 session is the eighth time a Death with Dignity bill is under consideration in the Massachusetts legislature.
Representative Kafka introduced similar bills in
- 2015: H.1991, the Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act, with 39 co-sponsors. The bill received a hearing in the Joint (House and Senate) Committee on Public Health on October 27, 2015. In June 2016, the Committee recommended the end-of-life option bill be sent for further review, which effectively rendered the bill done for the year.
- 2013: H.1998
- 2012: H.3884
- 2011: H.2233
None of these bills moved out of Committee.
In 2012, we campaigned in Massachusetts for Question 2, a ballot initiative to pass a Death with Dignity bill. While polls showed 58% of state residents supported the ballot question about this end-of-life option, the measure lost narrowly 51 to 49 percent. Because of the Commonwealth’s rules on the initiative process, a Death with Dignity bill cannot return to the Massachusetts ballot until 2018.
Physician-assisted dying bills were also considered in 1995 (H.3173), 1997 (H.1543), and 2009 (H.1468).
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