Massachusetts Lawmakers Pushing To Legalize Voter-Rejected Physician-Assisted Suicide, Including Three Republicans

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When the voters had a chance to decide the matter, they rejected it.

And yet, the push to legalize physician-assisted suicide continues in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from elected members of both sides of the aisle. A virtual hearing on a bill titled “An Act Relative To End of Life Options” (S. 1384/H. 2381) is scheduled for Friday, October 1.

This is the third consecutive legislative session where a bill of this kind has been pushed for, dating back to 2017. That’s the case even though Bay State voters narrowly rejected a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide at the ballot box in November 2012. They voted against it 51 percent to 49 percent, with strong opposition to it among minority groups in urban areas, including Latinos.

The bill would allow physicians to provide medication to “terminally ill” adults for the patient to self-administer. The bill defines “terminally ill” as “having a terminal illness or condition which can reasonably be expected to cause death within 6 months, whether or not treatment is provided.”

Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, condemned the legislature’s push for the proposal, noting that the people already decided this issue in this state.

“It is bizarre that at this moment, with the effects of COVID causing a nationwide crisis in mental health, MA politicians are trying to normalize suicide amongst vulnerable populations,” Beckwith told NewBostonPost in an email message. “The targets of this terrible legislation may be the sick and the elderly, but the research shows that legalization of doctor assisted suicide increases suicides in the general public by creating a suicide contagion effect.  MA voters rejected this cynical legislation a decade ago via a statewide ballot. Their elected representatives should finally take that lesson to heart.”

Pope Francis is another opponent of physician-assisted suicide. He ripped the concept in an interview with COPE (People’s Radiowaves of Spain Network) on Wednesday, September 1.

“What is [deemed] useless is discarded,” Pope Francis said. “Old people are disposable material; they are a nuisance. Not all of them, but of course, in the collective subconscious of the throwaway culture, the old, the terminally ill, and unwanted children, too; they are returned to the sender before they are born.”

“This throwaway culture has marked us,” he added. “And it marks the young and the old. It has a strong influence on one of the tragedies of today’s European culture.”

And Massachusetts Citizens for Life executive director Patricia Stewart says that lawmakers should respect the people’s vote on this issue.

“In 2012, Massachusetts voters rejected assisted suicide because they saw through the soothing catch phrases in a bill that disguised suicide’s ugly reality,” she told NewBostonPost in an email message. “It’s time for legislators to honor the peoples’ will and save Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens from the falsely compassionate, grisly, and premature death that is assisted suicide.”

State Senator Joanne Comerford (D-Northampton), state Representative James O’Day (D-West Boylston), and state Representative John Mahoney (D-Worcester) are the presenters of the legislation. They could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. One question that NewBostonPost posed to the legislators:  why are they pushing this legislation despite voters rejecting the proposal at the ballot box?

While most of the co-sponsors of the legislation are Democrats, there are three Republican backers:  state Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus), state Representative James Kelcourse (R-Newburyport), and state Representative Lenny Mirra (R-Georgetown). None of them could be reached for comment when asked the same question on Tuesday.

Supporters of physician-assisted suicide legislation argue that it exists to ease suffering and that people should be able to decide when they want to end their own life.

The pro-physician-assisted suicide group that calls itself Compassion & Choices vouches in favor of the bill.

“If passed, the legislation would give mentally capable, terminally ill Massachusetts residents the option to obtain a doctor’s prescription for medication they could decide to take to peacefully end their suffering if it becomes unbearable,” the organization’s web site says.

Nine states and the District of Columbia already have legalized physician-assisted suicide. Such states include California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state.


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