Massachusetts lawmakers consider ‘assisted suicide’ bill

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a proposal to authorize physician-assisted suicides, or as many refer to it as ‘medical aid in dying’.

For the 5th year in a row, lawmakers on Beacon Hill are considering a proposal to legalize drugs to end someone’s life. That person must be able to consent and administer the drugs themselves.

On Tuesday, members of the Public Health Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 12-08. The legislation would allow a licensed doctor to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill individuals, but only after several critical steps are completed.

“Medical aid and dying is a 13 step process for somebody to get to there needs to be two physicians that they’re mentally capable, terminally ill, have a prognosis of six months or less to live and that they’re able to self ingest the medication,” Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion and Choices said.

The bill also requires two witnesses to sign off on the procedure, one of which can’t be someone who stands to benefit from the patient’s passing.

Many of the protections included in the bill aim to prevent someone from being forced into taking life-ending drugs, but opponents said that’s already happening in other states.

“It’s a lot cheaper to grab a bunch of pills and kill you than to offer you life-saving or life-sustaining treatment,” T Brian Callister, internal medicine specialist said.

Opponents of the bill believe insurance companies will push for ‘medically assisted suicide’ so they don’t have to fund more costly, life-extending treatment options. Though there has been no evidence of this practice in states that have already passed medical aid in dying legislation.