March 2021: Identical House and Senate bills have been filed to legalize physician assisted suicide. The status of the bills are that they have been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health. The bills already have a significant number of legislator supporters. Conventional wisdom says that not much will happen until after the budget is complete, however, everyone is encouraged to share your opposition with your legislators early and often!
An Act relative to end of life options
Please read the entire bill, which include many more sections than shown below. For instance, do you agree with Section 14(e): “(e) State regulations, documents and reports shall not refer to the practice of aid in dying under this chapter as “suicide” or “assisted suicide.””?
Excerpts from the bills
- (a) A patient wishing to receive a prescription for medication under this chapter shall make an oral request to the patient’s attending physician. No less than 15 days after making the request the patient shall submit a written request to the patient’s attending physician in substantially the form set in section 4.
- (b)A terminally ill patient may voluntarily make an oral request for aid in dying and a prescription for medication that the patient can choose to self-administer to bring about a peaceful death if the patient:
- (1) is a capable adult;
- (2) is a resident of Massachusetts; and
- (3) has been determined by the patient’s attending physician to be terminally ill.
- (c) A patient may provide a written request for aid in dying and a prescription for medication that the patient can choose to self-administer to bring about a peaceful death if the patient:
- (1) has met the requirements in subsection (b);
- (2) has been determined by a consulting physician to be terminally ill;
- (3) has been approved by a licensed mental health professional; and
- (4) has had no less than 15 days pass after making the oral request.
- (d) A patient shall not qualify under this chapter if the patient has a guardian.
- (e) A patient shall not qualify under this chapter solely because of age or disability.
- (a) A valid written request must be witnessed by at least two individuals who, in the presence of the patient, attest that to the best of their knowledge and belief that patient is:
- (1) personally known to the witnesses or has provided proof of identity;
- (2) acting voluntarily; and
- (3) not being coerced to sign the request.
- (b) At least one of the witnesses shall be an individual who is not:
- (1) a relative of the patient by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- (2) an individual who at the time the request is signed would be entitled to any portion of the estate of the qualified patient upon death under any will or by operation of law;
- (3) financially responsible for the medical care of the patient; or
- (4) an owner, operator, or employee of a health care facility where the qualified patient is receiving medical treatment or is a resident.
- (d) The patient’s attending physician at the time the request is signed shall not serve as a witness.
- (e) If the patient is a patient in a long-term care facility at the time the written request is made, one of the witnesses shall be an individual designated by the facility.
Section 4. REQUEST FOR AID IN DYING MEDICATION PURSUANT TO THE MASSACHUSETTS END OF LIFE OPTIONS ACT
I,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , am an adult of sound mind and a resident of the State of Massachusetts. I am suffering from . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , which my attending physician has determined is a terminal illness or condition which can reasonably be expected to cause death within 6 months. This diagnosis has been medically confirmed as required by law.
I have been fully informed of my diagnosis, prognosis, the nature of the aid in dying medication to be prescribed and potential associated risks, the expected result, and the feasible alternatives and additional treatment opportunities, including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.
I request that my attending physician prescribe aid in dying medication that will end my life in a peaceful manner if I choose to take it, and I authorize my attending physician to contact any pharmacist to fill the prescription.
I understand that I have the right to rescind this request at any time. I understand the full import of this request and I expect to die if I take the aid in dying medication to be prescribed. I further understand that although most deaths occur within three hours, my death may take longer and my physician has counseled me about this possibility. I make this request voluntarily, without reservation, and without being coerced, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.