CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill that would allow terminally ill patients the option to request life-ending medication, known as the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act.

The idea behind an aid-in-dying law is to help relieve long term pain and suffering. Currently, nine states and Washington D.C. offer physician assisted death.

This week on 22News InFocus, we had two half-hour programs addressing both sides of this issue. Our guests who are in support of the bill are John Berkowitz, Director of Western Mass Death with Dignity; Dr. Kate Atkinson, a family practice physician from Amherst; and Dr. Shelly Berkowitz, a retired family practice physician from Northampton.

We discussed what is in the proposed law, and the protocols for requesting life-ending medication, and safeguards in the law to prevent possible misuse, abuse, or coercion.

InFocus: Opposition to the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act

Representing the opposition was Andrew Beckwith, President of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Currently, nine states and Washington D.C. have statutes that legalize physician-assisted death.
Supporters say that it would help a terminally ill patient make an informed decision about how to end their life.

Opponents of the measure are concerned about possible abuses of the law, as well as the social and moral issues surrounding the sanctity of life.