Northampton Becomes Third Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Endorse Medical Aid in Dying

The Northampton City Council became the third jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pass a resolution supporting medical aid in dying as a peaceful option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults to end unbearable suffering.
November 3, 2017

The approved resolution urges state lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225), which was introduced in January by Rep. Louis Kafka (8th Norfolk district), and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (2nd Essex & Middlesex district). The resolution will be transmitted to Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and to state legislators representing Northampton.

“We commend the Northampton City Council members for their local leadership and wisdom in making this public statement,” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices. “This resolution amplifies the voices of Northampton voters who overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, and will inspire other local elected officials across our state to do the same.”

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 Resolution cites the following facts:

  • [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.

This campaign to pass the Northampton resolution was spearheaded by Northampton resident John Berkowitz and the Pioneer Valley Death with Dignity Action Group. The resolution was sponsored by City Councilor Dennis Bidwell and co-sponsored by Marianne Labarge and Council President Bill Dwight.

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

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