Falmouth Becomes 6th Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Endorse Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation
(Falmouth, Mass.) Falmouth became the sixth jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Monday night to pass a resolution endorsing medical aid-in-dying legislation. The Falmouth Board of Selectmen passed the resolution with 4 yes votes and 1 abstention.
The resolution will be transmitted to the governor and lawmakers who represent Falmouth in the Legislature. It calls upon lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act, which will be introduced by Rep. Lou Kafka in the upcoming legislative session starting in January. The bill would give a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with six months or less to live the option to request and receive a prescription they can ingest to shorten a dying process if it becomes unbearable.
“We commend the Falmouth Board of Selectmen 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 Falmouth voters, who overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, and will inspire boards and councils across our state to do the same.”
Falmouth residents Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired internist living with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer, and Rabbi Elias Lieberman spearheaded the campaign to pass the Falmouth resolution.
“This resolution would not have passed without the leadership of Dr. Kligler and Rabbi Lieberman and the respect the Board of Selectman have demonstrated for them,” said Manis. “But I know they will not rest on their laurels. They will continue to advocate for state lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act so terminally ill adults will have the option to peacefully end intolerable suffering.”
Medical aid in dying has been safely practiced for over 40 combined years in six states (Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado) as well as the District of Columbia. In addition, the Hawai‘i legislature passed a medical aid-in-dying law earlier this year that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
The resolution’s rationale statements include the following:
- advances in science and technology have created medical interventions that often prolong the dying process and increase suffering; and
- absent 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
- twenty 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.
Compassion & Choices Massachusetts expects to see similarly successful grassroots efforts in other cities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and continues its campaign to urge the Legislature to pass the End of Life Options Act.