Massachusetts Physician-Assisted Suicide Legislation Dies Again

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BOSTON — The latest bill that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide in the Bay State has been sent back to study by the Joint Committee on Public Health, officially signaling the death of the legislation. 

On Monday, the House Clerk informed the New Boston Post that the legislation — which was introduced in both the Senate and in the House — had yet to receive a deadline reporting extension from the committee, and on Tuesday, the committee confirmed that both bills had been sent back to study, according to a State House News Service report.

Marie Manis of Compassion & Choices, a national advocacy group that bills itself as “the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life,” told the News Service her side is “deeply disappointed” as there are “already 40 years of data about medical aid-in-dying laws in six states, and polling shows more than 60 percent of doctors and 70 percent of voters in Massachusetts support this option.”

Anne Fox of Massachusetts Citizens For Life told the New Boston Post that her organization “welcomes the decision” to send both bills back to study. She pointed to similar legislation over the last two decades that likewise has failed to even clear the committee to prompt a vote, and referenced the 2012 ballot initiative that Massachusetts voters narrowly defeated in 2012. 

“Pundits expected the pro-suicide forces to put the question on the ballot again in 2018,” Fox said via email, later noting that the push never happened because “supporters were confident enough of a win in the state Legislature that they did not file a ballot question because they had more than doubled the number of sponsors of their bills and had the backing of most media outlets.”

“Doctor-Prescribed Suicide threatens those who are elderly, who are poor, who have disabilities or terminal illnesses,” Fox added. “Actually, it threatens every one of us by encouraging utilitarian judgments and actions on the part of the medical profession and insurance companies.”