New Massachusetts Poll Shows Record High Support for Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

May 3, 2022

Voters Significantly Less Likely to Support Lawmakers Who Fail to Pass Bill

A new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows a record 77% support level among Massachusetts residents for medical aid-in-dying legislation, including majorities across the state regional, political and racial spectrum. It represents a seven-point increase from the 70% support level in their pre-COVID 2019 poll. The survey also shows nearly four out of 10 residents (39%) are less likely to support lawmakers who fail to pass the medical aid-in-dying legislation, the End of Life Options Act (S.1384H.2381). Only one out of five voters (21%) are more likely to support lawmakers who fail to pass the End of Life Options Act, the poll reveals.

The survey of 800 residents, including 765 registered voters, 651 of whom are likely to vote in November, was conducted April 24-28, coinciding with Vermont GOP Governor Phil Scott signing legislation on April 27 to improve access to that neighboring state’s 2013 medical aid-in-dying law, by allowing the use of telemedicine. A demographic breakdown of the poll results is at the end of this news release.

“It may be counterintuitive to some people, but the seven-point jump in support for medical aid in dying in this poll shows, if anything, COVID-19 may have increased support for this end-of-life care option,” said Melissa Stacy, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices Action Network. “It also proves most Massachusetts residents, regardless of where they live, their political party or race, support the End of Life Options Act, and many of them may hold lawmakers accountable if they fail to pass it.”

Washington, D.C. and 10 states, including both neighboring Vermont and Maine, allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering, at home, surrounded by loved ones. In March, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health advanced the End of Life Options Act to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.

“I pray this poll result will spur lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act before it’s too for the many terminally ill  people who will needlessly suffer without it,” said Wenham resident JoAnn Vizziello, who has incurable blood cancer and testified in support of the End of Life Options Act before the Joint Committee on Public Health last October.  “I hope to be alive for many more years but if the cancer outsmarts the chemotherapy and other treatments now available to control it, the cancer can result in an extremely painful death, unless of course you are so pumped up with morphine that you basically lie rotting away in a coma. That is not how I want to die. As my deceased family members and friends prepare to greet me on the other side of death, I want to be conscious and in the arms of my husband with my children nearby to wish me well on my journey.”

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From right, JoAnn Vizziello in hospital with husband Phil.

“Constituents in western Massachusetts overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying and these poll results demonstrate that sentiment is shared throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), the lead sponsor of the End of Life Options Act in the Senate (S.1384) and Senate Chair of Joint Committee on Public Health. “It’s time to pass the End of Life Options legislation. I am proud to support this legislation in the Senate along with dedicated colleagues and I’ll keep working and advocating until it is signed into law.”

“Massachusetts residents appreciate the paramount importance of good healthcare and a fair, standard quality of life. Massachusetts residents have also become more aware of their own mortality over the past two years. Medical aid in dying is a complex and difficult conversation, but it can provide patients and their loved ones with peace of mind and comfort,” said Representative Jim O’Day (D-14th Worcester District), the lead sponsor of the End of Life Options Act in the House (H.2381). “This is not a political issue. This is a quality of life issue. It is a personal issue, and that is why so many people support medical aid in dying. People want choices, dignity, and respect and there is no reason why that cannot be provided to them.”

A 2017 internal survey of Massachusetts Medical Society members showed they support the End of Life Options Act by a 2-1 margin: 62 percent support vs. 28 percent oppose (see page 9 chart here).

Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll responses to medical aid-in-dying questions by region, race, party.

  1. Do you think a mentally sound adult with an incurable, terminal illness should have the legal option of asking a physician to prescribe aid-in-dying medication to end their suffering – yes or no?

    Region:

    Worcester/West (Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester counties):

    • 78% Yes

    • 16% No

    NE (Middlesex, Essex counties):

    • 82% Yes

    • 12% No

    Suffolk (Suffolk County):

    • 64% Yes

    • 24% No

    SE MA/Cape (Norfolk, Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket counties):

    • 72% Yes

    • 18% No

    Race:

    White:

    • 81% Yes

    • 12% No

    Black:

    • 60% Yes

    • 32% No

    Hispanic:

    • 65% Yes

    • 24% No

    Party Registration:

    Democrat:

    • 82% Yes

    • 14% No

    Republican:

    • 67% Yes

    • 22% No

    Independent:

    • 78% Yes

    • 15% No

2. Are you more or less likely to vote for your current state legislator if they fail to pass legislation allowing a mentally sound adult with an incurable, terminal illness to have the option of medical aid-in-dying?

  1. Region:

    Worcester/West (Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester counties)

    • More likely: 19%

    • Less likely: 41%

    NE (Middlesex, Essex counties)

    • More likely: 25%

    • Less likely: 38%

    Suffolk (Suffolk County)

    • More likely: 10%

    • Less likely: 49%

    SE MA/Cape (Norfolk, Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket counties)

    • More likely: 19%

    • Less likely: 37%

    Race:

    White

    • More likely: 19%

    • Less likely: 41%

    Black

    • More likely: 30%

    • Less likely: 40%

    Hispanic

    • More likely: 24%

    • Less likely: 22%

    Party Registration:

    Democrat

    • More likely: 25%

    • Less likely: 39%

    Republican

    • More likely: 20%

    • Less likely: 49%

    Independent

    • More likely: 19%

    • Less likely: 37%

    The polling summary is at: https://www.suffolk.edu/news-features/news/2022/05/01/01/09/suffolk-poll-majority-of-massachusetts-residents-say-economy-is-in-decline

    The polling crosstabs are posted at: https://compassionandchoices.org/docs/default-source/massachusetts/suffolk-univ-boston-globe-poll-april-24-28-2022-aidindying-crosstabs.pdf

 

The Compassion & Choices family comprises two organizations: Compassion & Choices (the 501(c)(3)), whose focus is expanding access, public education and litigation; and Compassion & Choices Action Network (the 501(c)(4)), whose focus is legislative work at the federal and state levels.

Paid for by Compassion & Choices Action Network

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VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.

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