HomeoldPhysician-assisted suicide bill fails to advance in Massachusetts

Physician-assisted suicide bill fails to advance in Massachusetts

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Boston — A contentious bill that sought to legalise physician-assisted suicide in the Bay State appears to have been shelved for the current legislative session. The proposal was facing a crucial Thursday deadline, in which the joint legislative committee tasked with its review had to determine whether or not to issue a favourable report.

State Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover), who serves on the Joint Committee on Public Health, the body responsible for responding to the deadline, stated that members voted to recommend that the bill undergo further review. Lyons further clarified that this decision was announced on Wednesday morning.

Prior to the submission of the current version, state representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) had previously filed three other versions of the bill in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In each of these instances, the bill failed to progress beyond the committee stage. Wednesday’s announcement marks the fourth such instance.

Prior to Kafka assuming the mantle of the controversial cause, Bay State lawmakers had previously rejected assisted suicide bills in 1995, 1997 and 2009. Furthermore, in the 2012 election, the proposed ballot initiative to legalise the practice of assisted suicide was rejected by a narrow margin, with 51.9% of the electorate voting against the proposal and 48.1% voting in favour.

The committee convened a public hearing on Kafka’s bill in early November.

Lyons was one of the most sceptical committee members and subjected Kafka to a rigorous examination following the Stoughton lawmaker’s testimony.

At the time, Lyons stated, “The law is called the Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act, but so far what we know is that a patient will take this medication by themselves with no family members around.” The bill states that an individual may choose to take this medication without informing their family.

“The legislation that we are proposing is called the Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act. However, the description that I have just provided does not appear to be compassionate.”

Kafka acknowledged that his proposal would not require patients to contact their families prior to ingesting lethal doses of prescribed medication.

The proposed legislation would permit any individual aged 18 or above who has been diagnosed by a medical practitioner with a terminal illness and a maximum six-month life expectancy to request and receive a lethal dose of drugs. Kafka has indicated that these drugs can be prescribed in a drinkable form. Although the patient would be permitted to ingest the dose unaccompanied and without consulting with their family, they would still be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to confirm that depression or another mental illness is not exerting an undue influence.

Kafka has stated that he began drafting versions of the legislation following a meeting with a constituent suffering from terminal stomach cancer. The constituent subsequently passed away.

It should be noted that… This appeared in the New Boston Post and is reprinted with permission.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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