2021 Legislative Session
The Massachusetts End of Life Options Act (H.2381/S.1384)—which would authorize medical aid in dying—is scheduled to be heard by the Joint Committee on Public Health on Friday, October 1, at 9 a.m. ET.
On February 8, the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act was reintroduced for the 2021/2022 legislative session by sponsors Senator Jo Comerford (Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester) and Representative Jim O’Day (Worcester).
2019-2020 Legislative Session
On January 5, 2021, lawmakers adjourned the 2019/2020 legislative session without taking further action on the End of Life Options Act.
We saw an outpouring of editorial endorsements for the bill, including a December 2020 piece from The Boston Globe urging lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act.
In November, more than 200 supporters joined our Massachusetts virtual rally. The event was a first for Compassion & Choices, and included remarks by Compassion & Choices President and CEO Kim Callinan, our legislative champions, Senator William Brownsberger and now retired Representative Lou Kafka, and statewide advocates like Michael Martignetti, Dr. Roger Kligler, Amanda Baudanza, Lee Marshall and Rabbi Elias Lieberman, among others.
On June 1, 2020, Compassion & Choices marked a huge advancement in our campaign to expand and protect end-of-life care options in Massachusetts and across the country when the state’s Joint Committee on Public Health approved legislation that would authorize medical aid in dying: the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act (H.4782/S.2745).
In December 2019, a Massachusetts court dismissed of all but one count in a lawsuit brought by Compassion & Choices on behalf of two Massachusetts physicians asserting the state constitution and existing state law allow medical aid in dying for mentally capable, terminally ill adults. Compassion & Choices is working toward appealing the ruling.
The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health heard testimony on the End of Life Options Act on June 25, 2019. The bill was advanced by the committee following a May 2020 vote. Kim Callinan testified on behalf of the bill.
On January 8, 2019, medical aid-in-dying legislation (H.1926) was introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature by Representative Louis L. Kafka and Senator William N. Brownsberger with a combined 63 cosponsors.
A companion bill (S.1208) was introduced in the Senate by Senator William Brownsberger on January 14, 2019.
On September 26, 2017, the Massachusetts JPH held a hearing for the End of Life Options Act introduced by Rep. Lou Kafka (H1194) and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (S1225), and cosponsored by 46 legislators. We had 175 supporters turn out, and many testified including doctors, faith leaders, social workers, legislators and people with personal stories. The JPH Committee did not move the bill forward.
On October 26, 2016, Compassion & Choices filed suit in the Massachusetts Superior Court on behalf of two medical doctors asserting that current state law allows physicians to offer terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option of medical aid in dying.
The Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Ill Act (H 1991) was heard by the Joint Public Health Committee in October 2015. Compassion & Choices secured 39 cosponsors for the bill, filled two hearing rooms with supporters and heard more than 30 supportive testimonies. The bill was recommended for further review in Summer 2016, essentially preventing the bill from advancing that legislative session.
Compassion & Choices stepped up our volunteer efforts in Massachusetts in the 2013 – 2014 legislative session. We hosted a strong lobby day at the State House in Feb 2014, visiting 30 state representatives and senators, including many of our key swing legislators on the Public Health Committee, and delivered 7,000 petition signatures in support of aid in dying. The supporters in attendance represented a variety of professional backgrounds including physicians, social workers, former state legislators and constituents with personal stories.
The bill was recommended for further review, essentially preventing it from advancing in that session.
Compassion & Choices has been on the ground working in the state for six years, beginning with a citizen-led ballot initiative in 2012. Although polls were indicating 64 percent support, this initiative was narrowly defeated by a last-minute influx of out-of-state campaign funds directed at massive media scare tactics and criticisms of the proposed legislation not being protective enough and allowing manipulation of the system.