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Massachusetts Lawmakers Urge Colleagues to Pass End-of-Life Options Act

by Lily Bohlke, Commonwealth News Service

According to a new poll, more than half of voters across the nation are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports medical aid in dying, and just 6% say they’d be less likely to do so.

In Massachusetts, lawmakers have introduced the “End of Life Options Act” since 2012, with some adjustments over the years. It would allow patients who have received a terminal diagnosis to voluntarily request a prescription to end their lives peacefully. Rep. James O’Day, D-West Boylston, a primary sponsor this session, said people want to be in control of their lives.

“Why should we, at the end of people’s lives, take that option away from individuals,” he said, “particularly individuals who find themselves in really difficult physical health and putting themselves and loved ones through a really difficult and traumatic experience?”

O’Day noted that opponents of the bill try to frame medical aid in dying as controversial, or a form of suicide. He said he disagrees with that characterization and believes it’s a way for someone who is of sound mind to make an informed decision with their family in the context of a terminal diagnosis.

Jim Lee, chief executive of Susquehanna Polling and Research,, which conducted the survey, said support for medical aid in dying is seen across party lines.

“Respondents to the poll did not view this through a partisan lens; it was a real personal issue for them,” he said. “So many things are polarized these days, so the fact that we have strong consensus on this type of medical issue, I think, speaks volumes.”

Kim Callinan, president and chief executive of Compassion & Choices, added that support has grown even in the last couple years.

“As a result of the COVID pandemic, people have become face to face with the inevitability of life’s end,” she said, “and they’re recognizing that the current policies are lacking, and seeking greater autonomy and compassion.”

3 Comments

  1. Watching my brother suffer in the most horribly painful way possible, all we could do was watch him hurting and moaning in pain. They gave him morphine and Ativan, no food or drinks. A wet sponge on a stick jammed in his mouth every so often. If he had the choice he would have taken that pill. But NO he suffered even on his last breath. All his loved ones heard and watch the pain he was in. When I think of his passing all I hear is his moaning, All I see is him in his bed reaching for his head. He had cancer of the brain. Before that it was in a lung, then bones. He suffered for 2 years. Give these people the right to choose to pass with dignity. To save them from the pain. Let them choose to not put their loved through seeing what I had to see.

    • Yours is exactly the story that should motivate legislators to make the right call. My little brother just died at the end of December after he’d lost the ability to take care of himself. In the last couple weeks, he was in an increasing amount of pain that you could see in the strained faces he made, even after he’d lost the ability to speak. I know he would have made the choice to pass peacefully, with dignity, when he was still capable of saying goodbye. Thank you for sharing.

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