Opponents Of Doctor-Assisted Suicide To Go On Offensive At State House Wednesday

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2018/01/30/opponents-of-doctor-assisted-suicide-to-go-on-offensive-at-state-house-wednesday/

BOSTON — Opponents of legislation aimed at legalizing physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts will hit the Massachusetts State House — likely clad in white physician garb — on Wednesday as part of a lobbying initiative.

The specific bill identified by pro-life advocates, called “An Act Relative to End of Life Options,” calls for allowing terminally ill citizens access to lethal doses of medication but only after doctor consultation. The legislation was introduced by state Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), along with companion legislation by state Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton).

The proposal experienced a spirited public hearing in September but is still sitting in the hands of the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Opponents of the bill will gather at the State House at noon. The lobbying day effort was apparently sparked by a recent decision by the Massachusetts Medical Society to switch positions and adopt a neutral stance on “medical-aid-in-dying.” The organization dropped its longtime opposition to the practice in December.

Dr. Mark Rollo, a Fitchburg-based physician who has been an outspoken opponent of efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the Bay State, plan to lead a press conference.

In a recent email message sent to fellow opponents, Rollo described the Massachusetts Medical Society’s decision as “a common tactic of the pro-physician-assisted suicide lobby to try to get state medical societies to go neutral in order to pave the way for legalization.”

The Joint Committee on Public Health could issue a decision as early as February, according to Rollo. Joining Rollo on Wednesday will be Dr. Thomas Sullivan, a cardiologist who previously served as president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Dr. Laura A. Petrillo, a palliative care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We will be there to express our opposition to physician-assisted suicide and to meet with legislators immediately after the event,” Rollo added in his email message. “Wearing of white coats would be good optics.”

Previous versions of the bill have never advanced out of committee for either House or Senate floor votes.

Massachusetts voters in 2012 narrowly defeated a statewide ballot initiative that would have legalized the practice.

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