By Matt Murphy
It’s been 10 years since voters narrowly rejected a ballot question that would have allowed physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients, at their request. But that hasn’t put the issue to rest. Far from it.
A new Suffolk/Boston Globe poll released at the end of April found 76.6 percent of likely voters support giving terminally ill patients the option of requesting aid-in-dying medication from their doctors, with just 6.6 percent undecided. The survey reflected a 7-point jump in support from a similar pre-COVID survey taken November 2019.
“The numbers clearly speak for themselves,” said Rep. Jim O’Day, a West Boylston Democrat and longtime advocate for legislation to legalize medically assisted death. O’Day is one of nearly 50 legislators, or their staff, signed up to participate Tuesday in a virtual briefing sponsored by Compassion & Choices Action Network and Death with Dignity National Center on this session’s legislation (S 1384). O’Day said he was encouraged when the Committee on Public Health recommended the bill in March, and is hopeful that the new poll numbers will elevate the issues as the Committee on Health Care Financing continues its review.
“We have been very busy with some very high priority pieces of legislation, obviously the budget and ARPA money, and the energy bill,” O’Day said. “Not to say that this piece of legislation isn’t as important, because I personally think it is, it’s just been fighting, in the House anyway, for some priority attention.” Melissa Stacy, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices Action Network, said this vote should be a “no-brainer.”
The Suffolk/Globe poll found that only 20.6 percent of voters would be more likely to support a candidate because they didn’t pass aid-in-dying legislation, while 39.4 percent said they would be less likely to support a state legislator who didn’t take action. “I think for me, this isn’t a hard vote. It’s an issue that lawmakers really should be running on,” Stacy told the News Service.