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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Massachusetts End of Life Option Act Awaits Committee Assignment

On October 5, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 380, removing major roadblocks to medical aid-in-dying access for the nearly one out of every eight U.S. residents that live in the Golden State. With this stroke of a pen, the Governor cemented a new precedent for empowering Americans to take charge of their end-of-life care. Now, Massachusetts is hoping to repeat this success with a bill (H.2381/S.1384) currently moving forward.

In 2015, California passed the End of Life Option Act to give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication they can take to peacefully end unbearable suffering.

But the law required patients to wait 15 days between making two oral requests for the medication—a waiting game that was simply inhumane for people that are terminally ill. SB 380 not only drastically reduces that waiting period to 48 hours, but makes crucial other revisions to the law:

It will extend the sunset date to January 1, 2031, giving the legislature an additional five years to act to make this a permanent option for the people of California.

And hospitals and hospices will now have to post their medical aid-in-dying policies on their websites, increasing transparency for terminally ill Californians desperate for this information.

In Massachusetts, terminally ill residents are still waiting to be granted these same rights. The Massachusetts End of Life Options Act would grant them access to medical aid in dying for the first time.

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