Cambridge Becomes First Massachusetts City to Endorse Medical Aid in Dying

September 13, 2016

Last night, the Cambridge City Council became the first in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pass a resolution supporting medical aid in dying. The vote was nine to zero. Mayor Denise Simmons also voted in favor. The resolution will be transmitted to the Governor and to Senators and Representatives from Cambridge in the Legislature on September 15; it calls upon lawmakers to pass a medical aid-in-dying law, which will be reintroduced by Rep. Lou Kafka in January.

“We commend the Cambridge City Council for their leadership and wisdom in making this public statement,” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices. “This resolution amplifies the voices of Cambridge voters who overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, and will inspire councils across our state to do the same.”

This campaign to pass the Cambridge resolution was spearheaded by long-time Cambridge residents Alice Howard and Margot Kempers. The resolution was sponsored by Vice-Mayor Marc McGovern and co-sponsored by City Council members Dennis Carlone and Leland Cheung.

Medical aid in dying allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with 6 months or less to live to request and receive a prescription they can self-administer, when and whether they choose, to shorten a dying process that becomes unbearable. It has a combined 30 years of safe practice with no incidents of abuse in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and California. It will also appear on the Colorado ballot as a citizen initiative in November of this year.


The Resolution’s rationale statements include the following:


  • [A]dvances in science and technology have created medical interventions that often prolong the dying process and increase suffering; and
  • [A]bsent the availability of aid in dying, patients and loved ones in Massachusetts have become so desperate to relieve suffering caused by terminal illness that they turn to violent means; and
  • [N]ineteen years of transparent reporting and study of aid-in-dying practice in Oregon demonstrates the utility and safety of the practice in upholding a patient’s right to self-determination; and


Compassion & Choices Massachusetts praised this vote by the Cambridge City Council and the citizens who made it happen, and expects to see similar grassroots efforts in other cities throughout the Commonwealth. Compassion & Choices Massachusetts continues its campaign for the Compassionate Aid in Dying law in the legislature.

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