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Natural Awakenings Boston

Joint Committee on Public Health Hearing on Medical Aid in Dying Legislation

Compassion & Choices urges Massachusetts residents to attend the Joint Committee on Public Health Hearing on Sep­tember 26, at the State House to show crucial support for the medical aid in dying legislation. The time and hearing room will be announced in early September.

Medical aid in dying, known as the end of life options act, gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. Seventy per­cent of Massachusetts voters support medical aid-in-dying, including 64 percent of Catholics, according to a 2014 Pur­ple Insights poll.

If enacted into law this upcoming legislative session, it would make Massachusetts the eighth jurisdiction in the nation to authorize medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option. Oregon, where medical aid in dying has been authorized for two decades, has been joined since then by Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

On July 13, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved an amendment by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to repeal the D.C. Death With Dignity Act. Congress had a chance to repeal the law in February 2017 during a 30-day legislative review period, but it failed. Congressman Harris is now misusing the ap­propriations process to block funding to implement the law, violating the autonomy of Washington, D.C. residents. If this federal power grab succeeds, it would set a dangerous precedent that could embolden congressional opponents to ban medical aid in dying nationwide. Such a ban would invalidate laws in six states representing 18 percent of the nation’s population where medical aid in dying has been practiced safely for more than 40 combined years and threaten its future enactment in Massachusetts.

For time and hearing room, call the JCPHH at 617-722- 2130 or email Marie Manis, Compassion & Choices, at [email protected] Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organiza­tion working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. More information is available at CompassionAnd­Choices.org.