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Massachusetts

Current Status

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. On February 7, 2018, the Committee extended the reporting date for H.1194 to June 30, 2018 and for S.1225 to March 7, 2018.

In December 2017, the Massachusetts Medical Society rescinded its opposition to “physician assisted suicide” and adopted that of “neutral engagement” on the issue (see more here, here and here).

History

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).

Resources

Events

Are you the organizer or do you know of a related event in Massachusetts? Email us with details (event title, description, date/time, location, contact or link for more information or to register) and we’ll list it here.

Urge your Massachusetts legislators to support the Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act

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Every Letter Counts, Send Yours Today!

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is once again considering a Death with Dignity bill. Modeled on the Oregon law, H 1994, Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act, would give terminally ill people more freedom, control, and peace of mind at the end of their lives. Urge your state legislators to support the bill!

Tell Congress to Leave D.C.'s Death with Dignity Act Alone

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D.C. Residents Aren’t the Only Ones at Risk. Take Action Now!

Death with dignity opponents in Congress are trying to repeal the Washington D.C. Death with Dignity Act through the federal budget process. If they have their way, they’ll go on to repeal the rights of qualified terminally ill citizens in the states that have these laws and ban assisted dying nationwide, including Massachusetts. Help us win this fight. Send a letter to your U.S. Representative and Senators asking them to keep the repeal provision out of this year's spending bill.

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