Thursday, August 4, 2011

Massachusetts - Drive begins to put assisted suicide law on ballot next year

An article by Kyle Cheney and published on Boston.com indicates that the assisted suicide lobby are collecting signatures for an assisted suicide initiative in Massachusetts for the November 2012 election.

The article states:
Voters may be asked to determine the fate of a proposal permitting dying patients to take life-ending drugs, a wrenching issue that backers say is a matter of dignity for the terminally ill but that opponents have warned is fraught with the potential for error.

Backers of assisted suicide for certain terminally ill patients filed paperwork yesterday with Attorney General Martha Coakley to begin the process of bringing their plan, dubbed the Death With Dignity Act, to the 2012 ballot.

The proposed law asks voters to recognize that it is in the public interest to permit patients “with a terminal disease that will cause death within six months’’ to obtain drugs to “end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.’’ The plan also requires the patient to be capable of making medical decisions and to consult with physicians.

“It is further declared that the public welfare requires that such a process be entirely voluntary on the part of all participants, including the patient, his or her physicians, and any other health care provider or facility providing services or care to the patient,’’ according to the text of the proposal.

Only two states, Washington and Oregon, have legalized assisted suicide.

To reach the ballot, backers must have the language of their plan certified by Coakley, who has until early September to make a determination. Then, proponents must gather 68,911 signatures by mid-November. If the signature drive succeeds, lawmakers have until May 2012 to back the proposal, offer an alternative, or permit the plan to go to the ballot unaltered.

Barring legislative intervention, backers would need to collect an additional 11,485 signatures before sending the plan to voters in November 2012.

Representative Louis Kafka, Democrat of Stoughton, filed a bill earlier this year that resembles the assisted suicide ballot proposal, and he said a ballot push could draw attention to the issue.

... Kafka said in a phone interview, that he learned of the proposal yesterday and is not one of the ballot drive organizers. “Perhaps educating the public and then pursuing a law from the standpoint of a ballot question may be a better vehicle than legislation.’’

“Usually an issue like this could take two or three or four sessions before, as I like to put it, the time has come for passage,’’ Kafka continued. “I think we could work together to the issue’s advantage, giving people the ability to die with dignity.’’

The suicide lobby has already hired a political consultant. The Milford Daily news reported:
"Michael Clarke of Hancock Street in Quincy is the group’s political consultant. Clarke most recently worked as a finance director on U.S. Rep. William Keating’s successful election campaign last fall. Clarke declined to comment on the initiative.
...
If the signature drive succeeds, lawmakers have until next May to back the proposal, offer an alternative or permit the plan to go to the ballot undeterred. Barring legislative intervention, backers would need to collect an additional 11,485 signatures before sending the plan to voters in November 2012."

The suicide lobby in the United States has been busy polling and raising money in order to put assisted suicide on the ballot in several US States in November 2012.

In 2008, Washington State passed Initiative 1000. The suicide lobby raised more than $5.5 million in their campaign to legalize assisted suicide.

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