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Massachusetts

Current Status

Sponsored by a total of 67 State Senators (20) and Representatives (47), S.1208/H.1926, the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act, advanced from the Joint Committee on Public Health on May 29, 2020, in an amended version, S.2745 / H.4782. The bill now awaits a vote in the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing.

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We are supporting Western Massachusetts Death with Dignity, Inc. (formerly Pioneer Valley Death with Dignity) in advocating for assisted dying in Massachusetts.

S.1208

H.1926

Endorsements

In December 2017, the Massachusetts Medical Society rescinded its opposition to “physician assisted suicide” and adopted a position of “neutral engagement” on the issue (see more here and here).

Bill Sponsors

  • S.1208 sponsors (19 Senators + 18 Representatives):
    • Massachusetts State Senators William Brownsberger (D-2nd Suffolk and Middlesex), Michael Barrett (D-Third Middlesex; Assistant Majority Leader), Joseph Boncore (D-First Suffolk and Middlesex), Harriette Chandler (D-1st Worcester), Joanne Comerford (D-Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester), Brendan Crighton (D-Third Essex), James Eldridge (D-Middlesex and Worcester), Paul Feeney (D-Bristol and Norfolk), Cindy Friedman (D-Fourth Middlesex), Anne Gobi (D-Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex), James Hawkins (D-2nd Bristol), Adam Hinds (D-Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden), Patricia Jehlen (D-Second Middlesex), Edward J. Kennedy (D-First Middlesex), Eric Lesser (D-First Hampden and Hampshire), Jason Lewis (D-Fifth Middlesex), Joan Lovely (D-Second Essex), Rebecca Rausch (D-Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex), James Welch (D-Hampden)
    • Massachusetts State Representatives Louis L. Kafka (D-8th Norfolk), David Henry Argosky LeBoeuf (D-17th Worcester), Brian Ashe (D-2nd Hampden), John Barrett, III (D-1st Berkshire), Natalie Blais (D-1st Franklin), Daniel Carey (D-2nd Hampshire), Michelle Ciccolo (D-15th Middlesex), Mike Connolly (D-26th Middlesex), Mindy Domb (D-3rd Hampshire), Daniel Donahue (D-16th Worcester), Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Essex), Carlos González (D-10th Hampden), Kenneth Gordon (D-21st Middlesex), Tami Gouveia (D-14th Middlesex), Jack Patrick Lewis (D-7th Middlesex), Lenny Mirra (R-2nd Essex), Maria Duaime Robinson (D-6th Middlesex), Lindsay Sabadosa (D-1st Hampshire)
  • H.1926 sponsors (13 Senators + 40 Representatives):
    • Massachusetts State Senators William Brownsberger (D-2nd Suffolk and Middlesex), Michael Barrett (D-Third Middlesex; Assistant Majority Leader), Harriette Chandler (D-1st Worcester), Joanne Comerford (D-Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester), Cynthia Stone Creem (D-First Middlesex and Norfolk), James Eldridge (D-Middlesex and Worcester), Paul Feeney (D-Bristol and Norfolk), Anne Gobi (D-Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex), Patricia Jehlen (D-Second Middlesex), Eric Lesser (D-First Hampden and Hampshire), Jason Lewis (D-Fifth Middlesex), Rebecca Rausch (D-Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex), James Welch (D-Hampden)
    • Massachusetts State Representatives Louis Kafka (D-8th Norfolk), Brian Ashe (D-2nd Hampden), John Barrett, III (D-1st Berkshire), Jennifer Benson (D-37th Middlesex), Natalie Blais (D-1st Franklin), Daniel Carey (D-2nd Hampshire), Michelle Ciccolo (D-15th Middlesex), Mike Connolly (D-26th Middlesex), Daniel Donahue (D-16th Worcester), Mindy Domb (D-3rd Hampshire), Michelle DuBois (D-10th Plymouth), Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Essex), Dylan Fernandes (D-Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket), William Galvin (D-6th Norfolk), Sean Garballey (D-23rd Middlesex), Carmine Lawrence Gentile (D-13th Middlesex), Carlos González (D-10th Hampden), Tami Gouveia (D-14th Middlesex), Stephan Hay (D-3rd Worcester), Jonathan Hecht (D-29th Middlesex), Natalie Higgins (D-4th Worcester), Kay Khan (D-11th Middlesex), Jack Patrick Lewis (D-7th Middlesex), Jay Livingstone (D-8th Suffolk), Adrian Madaro (D-1st Suffolk), Paul Mark (D-2nd Berkshire), Paul McMurtry (D-11th Norfolk), Michael Moran (D-18th Suffolk), James O’Day (D-14th Worcester), Sarah Peake (D-4th Barnstable), Alice Hanlon Peisch (D-14th Norfolk), Thomas Petrolati (D-7th Hampden), Maria Duaime Robinson (D-6th Middlesex), Lindsay Sabadosa (D-1st Hampshire), Jon Santiago (D-9th Suffolk), Steven Ultrino (D-33rd Middlesex), Aaron Vega (D-5th Hampden), Tommy Vitolo (D-15th Norfolk), Bud Williams (D-11th Hampden), Donald Wong (R-9th Essex)

History

2017-2018

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.

The 2017-2018 session was the eighth time a death with dignity bill was under consideration in the Massachusetts legislature.

2013-2016

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.

2012

In 2012, Death with Dignity National Center campaigned in Massachusetts for Question 2, a ballot initiative to pass a death with dignity bill. While polls showed 58 percent of state residents supported the ballot question about this end-of-life option, the measure lost narrowly 51 to 49 percent.

Pre-2012

Physician-assisted dying bills were also considered in 1995 (H.3173), 1997 (H.1543), and 2009 (H.1468).

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