September 13, 2012
State Voters Debate Physician-Assisted Suicide
(Updated) After a Massachusetts measure failed at the ballot box last fall, Vermont becomes third state to allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.
Update (May 14): Massachusetts residents voted not to legalize physician-assisted suicide last November, allowing Vermont to slide in as the third state to allow the practice. Vermont joins Oregon and Washington state, allowing terminally ill patients to opt to self-administer life-ending drugs.
Across the Atlantic, France and Belgium also have recently considered expanding their end-of-life laws.
Massachusetts residents will vote for more than presidential candidates on this fall's ballot. In addition, voters will decide on the Death With Dignity Act, potentially another step on the slow spread of laws permitting physician-assisted suicide.
The Massachusetts Death With Dignity referendum would allow terminally ill patients to choose to take their own lives with doctor-prescribed medication, similar to already-approved right-to-die legislation in Montana, Oregon, and Washington state.
The Roman Catholic Church "is waging an all-out battle against what it calls a 'grotesque threat to the elderly and sick,'" the Boston Globe reports. As the state's largest religious group, the Catholic Church is one of the largest supporters of the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, which has raised $900,000. In contrast, the main committee supporting the act, Dignity 2012, currently sits at $310,000.
CT has previously covered the slow spread of assisted suicides beyond Oregon, which was the first state to approve the concept in 1997 and was upheld in a 2006 Supreme Court ruling. CT also reported Montana's approval of assisted suicides, one month after Washington state approved a similar law.