Lexington Becomes 5th Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Endorse Medical Aid in Dying, Group Reports

December 19, 2017

Compassion & Choices commended the Lexington Board of Selectmen for voting to endorse the End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225). The vote makes Lexington the fifth jurisdiction to endorse medical aid in dying, which gives mentally capable, terminally ill Massachusetts adult residents with six months or less to live the option to end unbearable suffering.

The vote in Lexington comes after both Amherst and Northampton voted to endorse the legislation in November. The vote also comes on the heels of the Massachusetts Medical Society rescinding its opposition to medical aid in dying and adopting a stance of neutral engagement on the End of Life Options Act. The neutral engagement position means if the bill becomes law, the medical society will train doctors who want to offer medical aid in dying to their terminally ill patients about this medical practice.

“The momentum and public demand to authorize medical aid in dying continues to build across the Commonwealth,” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices. “We are thrilled that Lexington has endorsed this legislation because it would give peace of mind to Massachusetts residents facing their final days.”

The resolutions call on lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act authored by Rep. Louis Kafka (8th Norfolk district), and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (2nd Essex & Middlesex district). The Board of Selectmen will transmit the resolution to Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Interim Senate President Harriet Chandler and to state legislators representing Lexington.

Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. The medical practice has a combined 40 years of safe use and no incidents of misuse in the seven authorized jurisdictions of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and the District of Columbia.

The campaign to pass the resolution in Lexington was led by Michael Martignetti, a local resident who is wheelchair bound as a result of a life-shortening, neurological disease called Friedreich’s ataxia. Michael also testified in favor of the End of Life Options Act before the Joint Public Health Committee on Oct. 26.

Last year, Cambridge and Provincetown passed similar resolutions in favor of medical aid in dying.

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